Stuart Vevers took the growing momentum behind the brand up a notch this season. The Lindley Hall transformed into a metaphorical playground as guests were invited to sit on the edges of skateboard ramps, pregnant with anticipation. Save for the grey London weather, it could well pass off as a day on Venice Beach. After a strong showing last season that featured luxurious craft grounded in the utility of New York City outfitting, the spectacle of today’s show bodes well for the brand. Jibes of Coach being the premium economy of luxury houses have long been eluded with Vevers’ fiercely contemporary update of its men’s offering.
Against the backdrop of Californian surfer-skater ease, Coach freed itself from the clichés of big city uniform dressing. Vevers’ skillful manipulation of materials, owing to his training as an accomplished accessories designer, was projected on the season's staple, the transitional jacket. Paneled leather swatches of varying hues and textures mixed with psychedelic prints exemplified Vevers’ marriage of The Beach Boys of the ‘60s and ‘90s Brooklyn. Perhaps the liquid light show renderings were more successful than the animal prints, all employed to reference the “Individuality of New York City,” according to the press release – but you can hardly blame Vevers for wanting to move the Coach palette of browns and greys forward.
As the editors looked onto the skating arena, it was Vevers rather than the models who channeled the pro-skater, beckoning the audience to keep a close eye on the tricks up his sleeves. Offering great spectacles at the start and "freestyling" in parts, it signalled a direction to liberate the audience from existing ideas about Coach. Even the bigger venue and the variety of options, compared to last season, are steps towards accelerating the brand. Although inheriting a household name like Coach can seem as daunting as the incline on some of the ramps today, Vevers' stronghold on the neo-classic American staples helps maintain his position as the one to watch.