It was almost inevitable that after the hulking shearlings and the badged-up bikers from seasons before that Stuart Vevers would take on the mighty varsity for Coach’s A/W 16 collection, shown in New York in February. There could have been a danger of dipping into varsity fatigue. Re-shaped, recoloured and personalised – it’s been through most incarnations in the last two years. Thankfully though, Vever’s Americana-filter isn’t limited to the jocks of his cinematic nostalgia (specifically Rob Lowe as national ice hockey hopeful in Youngblood). Or chipper cheerleaders with dazzling smiles. In Coach’s gymnasium – a stone throw’s away from their brand spanking new headquarters – there was an overhang from spring summer’s successful prairie-inspired florals, informed by Jodie Foster’s character in Taxi Driver as well as 1970s sepia and tanned tones that could have also matched up with Velma’s chunky poloneck in Scooby Doo (another reference).
These seemingly disparate slices of TV and film were stitched and patched together in what Vevers called an “American quilt of sorts”. In the case of the panelled blouses with ruffled collars the patchwork was literal. As were the patches of Coach motifs and secret insignia tacked onto the cropped varsities and visibly stitched-up bags. It’s always been a giddy fascination for me that Coach has brought out this playful and unapologetically fun side to Vevers’ work and the use of a childish print, replete with Gem-esque stars and clouds, follows in this vein. The metallic loafers styled up with curved blocky heels and studs were a kookier take on Velma’s crimefighting shoe of choice. Cutie upticks aside, the collection once again hones in on sturdy outerwear like trusty peacoats and parkas as well as motif knitwear that has meant their ready to wear can sit in places like colette and Opening Ceremony and not feel out of place. As Coach’s revival under Vevers reaches a two year milestone, it might still be too soon to say it’s hit a touchdown or a home run (to borrow from letterman jacket vernacular), but the journey for me at least, as a willing ambassador, is definitely a fruitful one. Especially if it includes quilted pink cloud prints and pearl buttoned patchwork dresses.