Touted as California cool, the Coach + Rodarte collaboration made headlines back in March and it’s given us one of the most fashion-forward partnerships of the year. Coach has always had an unprecious modern approach to leather craft. It’s about personalised pieces that reflect your individuality. As for Rodarte, it has been about texture and colour all the way. The design is in the details and the thoughtful embellishments.
Picture this: Signature Rodarte-style applique details mixed with Coach’s glove-tanned leather canvassing a collection of dresses, bags, knits and moto jackets—it’s all very millennial and totally worth saving up for.
With a success on their hands and yet another feather in their caps, we caught up with Coach’s game changer Stuart Vevers, and the Rodarte sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy for some interesting insights about the collaboration.
(They even reveal what they consider an absolute must-have from their coveted collection.)
1. Do you have a funny story about your brainstorming sessions that you’d like to share?
Mulleavys: We laugh when we are given a time limit for a meeting because when we see Stuart, we immediately need to spend two hours just catching up on things. That makes our meetings quite long… and fun!
Vevers: Yes, we worked hard and we found time to enjoy ourselves along the way. But the best part was that Kate and Laura looked at Coach with fresh eyes and helped me see the brand’s heritage in new ways. When they suggested that we take the vintage 1970’s Coach ads and print them on t-shirts, it really made me think about how all the different phases of a bag’s life—from design to advertisement—form the design of that bag in the first place.
2. To the Mulleavy sisters: Tell us something about Stuart that people wouldn’t otherwise know.
Mulleavys: Stuart loves to take the train from city to city, and enjoys his time alone travelling in a rail car. He also has a deep love for Snoopy.
3) What piece do you think best showcases the partnership between Coach and Rodarte and is an absolute must have?
Vevers: The multi-coloured metallic leather sequin pieces because they combine Coach leather with Rodarte’s sense of colours and craft techniques.
Mulleavys: The metallic leather sequin floral bags. These developed out of a back and forth conversation that we had with Stuart—sharing ideas and looking at the Coach archive—and the pieces ended up feeling so special and unique.
4. The Coach & Rodarte collection features a lot of vintage throwbacks—Coach advertisements from the ‘70s, archival re-editions—what is it about these nostalgic elements that appeal to both of you?
Vevers: It took Rodarte not to take these references literally but to give them a sort of meta treatment. It’s not just us rehashing our history. We’re recreating it with a new sense of discovery and creativity brought on by Kate and Laura.
Also, I think people look at fashion today for a sense of fun, and between discos and roller-skates, it’s hard to think of a decade more fun than the 1970s.
Mulleavys: The design of these pieces and the advertisements are so current and modern, we had to reference them!
And to Stuart’s point, style is always referential—so whether it be 30s design, or 60s architecture, or Renaissance art, there will be a reference from a time period before… the future seems to always come from the past, so it’s about finding a creative dialogue between the two.
5. And what about your geographic routes? Rodarte is based in California and Coach is based in New York—how has that influenced your brands’ DNA?
Vevers: I think we are inspired by the same country but we are on opposite sides of that country. New York City is Coach’s home and the dynamic attitude and cultural diversity is a strong influence. That said, the urban Coach girl likes to visit California.
Mulleavys: As designers, we are inspired greatly by our natural surroundings. California has given us such amazing inspiration over the seasons—there’ve been endless discoveries that we’ve found in our home state.
6. So to finish, did the end result of this collaborative process turn out as you had expected?
Vevers: I was looking forward to exploring how Rodarte’s couture techniques would fit in the Coach world. In the end, I’m excited by how irreverent our approach was.
Mulleavys: We had no idea what it would be like, except we knew we would have fun because we enjoy spending time with Stuart so much! It felt very natural. Each idea carried forward so easily that it felt more like a conversation over dinner rather than work.
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