I wasn't a fan of Stuart Vevers's first ready-to-wear collection for Coach when it debuted last February. Coach, in my mind, has always been about approachable color and simple shapes, and I didn't think Coach's current customer -- and the many customers it had lost to Michael Kors, Kate Spade and Mulberry over the years -- would go for the black leather jackets and suede fringed bags. But after seeing the way the collection was merchandised on Net-a-Porter and in its newly revamped stores -- and Vevers's more colorful, modish spring 2014 collection -- I came totally on board. Coach is cool again, and not in a way that's appealing only to fashion insiders.
Going into his third season, Vevers says that consistency is very important. "Because ready-to-wear is a new proposition for Coach, we're trying to take ownership of some materials and attitudes," shearling and leather being prime examples, he said backstage after Coach's 9 a.m. presentation (the first of three) in Chelsea on Thursday. Vevers reintroduced its popular shearling-lined "urban hiker" boot in a taller version for fall '15, and used the material liberally on the interiors, collars and pockets of wool and leather parkas, brown suede coats and even on the backs of sleek black leather biker jackets, of which there were many.
"I like shearling because to me it's quite honest, it's a raw material with very simple construction, and something about that to me feels like a Coach approach to luxury, even an American approach to luxury -- not too precious," he said.
As good as the shearling pieces were, it was the black leather biker jackets -- patched and festooned with pins, zippers, even bits of fur -- that had most editors cooing. Vevers said he wanted the jackets to look ripped and repaired and personal -- luxury, but luxury that's "not too perfect."
Vevers also reintroduced the bandana prints and stars and stripes motifs from his earlier collections, particularly in the knitwear, which he said is an increasingly important category for Coach. And the bags? They weren't as remarkable as the bold, luxurious outerwear, but the bowler shapes -- which came in ivory and yellow ochre, some emblazoned with the word "Lucky" -- had my Twitter feed abuzz.
Check out the full collection below.