Little needs to be said of how challenging it is to be creating a collection during a pandemic. At Coach, it was a more concise spring/summer 2021 collection—only 28 looks across both menswear and womenswear—as compared to its regular 60-odd looks of seasons past. That, in itself, was a statement to the brand's stand on the speed and nature of the industry. Do we really need so much newness every single season? And if so, how much of it can be reworked into already existing pieces?
After seven years helming the creative direction at Coach, Stuart Vevers is taking stock of all that he's done and breathing new life into them. Certain pieces in the spring/summer 2021 collection were revived from previous outings, including the most recent autumn/winter 2020 collection that featured works by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Styled together, one could hardly tell the seasonality of each piece. It's a fine example of the timeless aesthetic that Vevers has championed from the start, relying on classic silhouettes and designs to create collections that can be worn for years. Hence, the collection's name: 'Coach Forever'.
With craft being core to the brand, there's an emphasis on each piece being crafted to last but also in a way that's environmentally responsible. There were recycled denims, vintage pieces that have been reworked with new embellishments, as well as those that were made from recycled plastic bottles.
'Coach Forever' was presented virtually through a short film format that featured stills and video snippets shot remotely by Juergen Teller. This not only allowed Coach to tap on its diverse roster of friends (how often would you be able to get Debbie Harry, Cole Sprouse, Kiko Mizuhara and Jon Batiste all in the same 'room'?) in various parts of the world, but also a reflection of the reality that we're all in—sequestered in our own spaces yet still connected albeit in a less personal capacity.
Look and feel: Muted but not sombre, the spring/summer 2021 collection was a palette of pastel blues and greens interspersed with a heavy dose of beiges and sandy tones. There was an almost old-school Americana feel to every look—a refreshing combination of relaxed shirting (that oversized, short-sleeved number in look 21 is a winner) with '50s prep by way of layering as well as use of checks and stripes. Essentially, the collection is an easy-to-wear selection of styles marked by pieces that can be seamlessly transitioned season after season.
Side note: It's interesting that with Coach being such a big leather brand, there's not a whole lot of leather or suede outerwear in the entire collection—a recurring signature in previous outings.
Favourite looks: This is the smallest collection of menswear since Coach began consolidating both menswear and womenswear into one showing for spring/summer 2018. But we're not mad at what's in store. Highlights include the aforementioned look 21 worn by Jon Batiste, especially with the accoutrements lining one side of the suspenders. Batiste's other outfit (look 14) also deserves special mention for its casual take on summer suiting—broken and worn with a striped tee. Jeremy Lin's layered fit in look 12 proves that with the right accessories and off-beat styling can turn a simple look into something less boring.
Favourite accessories: Rickey Thompson demonstrated in looks 9 and 19 that the neck-bag trend will still be holding strong for spring/summer 2021. The all-leather treatment in the latter would go exceptionally well with anything from suiting to casual coordinates; we're gravitating towards the former for a touch of modern vintage to add a bit of character to a look. For a more substantial option, the leather tote in look 21 with its quirky decorations is a solid update that's not too serious or garishly branded.