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Stuart Vevers Continues to Up Coach's Fashion Cred

Cool yet approachable, Coach is hitting its stride in its second season under a new creative director.

If Coach's earnings performance has been worrying Stuart Vevers as of late, the creative director, poached from Loewe just 15 months ago, isn't showing it.

On Thursday, the designer unveiled his first spring collection for the American label. Handbags are the backbone of Coach's business, but the focus of Vevers's presentation was once again the clothes: Shaggy faux fur coats in pink, purple and green pastel with shearling lapels or hoods, and modish, clean-cut separates in bright candy colors and leopard. Bell-bottomed trousers and clogs appeared again and again. The whole thing had a distinctly swinging '60s -- in some cases, '70s -- vibe, but Vevers insists that his inspiration was rooted in the melting pot of subcultures of New York, ranging from music to skate to surf.

Vevers says he likes "pieces you have a nostalgia for, pieces that stir something in you in an emotional way." For some, that nostalgic feeling might have been found in the wooden-soled clogs or cushy flatforms; others might have been provoked by the drawings of California artist and animator Gary Baseman, whose dark but cute creatures adorned t-shirts, leather bags and intarsia sweaters.

And the bags? Those looked much more "Coach" -- that is, the Coach America got to know during Reed Krakoff's 16-year turn as the creative head of the brand. Absent were the western-y suede and leather fringe Vevers showed last season, and in their place were neat, trapeze-shaped messenger bags in colored metallics, alongside structured totes and carryalls in sweet pastels. The classic Coach turnlocks still popped up frequently, as did fall's heavy studding, but the latter didn't have the same midwestern vibe as before.

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All in all, it was a standout collection, and Vevers has already gone a long way towards upping Coach's fashion cred. Now we'll have to see if that translates at the cash register.