“The financial results are starting to get good,” said Stuart Vevers, the British-born creative director of Coach. It was the day before his show, and Vevers was shooting some imagery. It’s true: Coach is a new textbook case study in how to resuscitate a brand. Net sales are up by 11%. Previously they had been plunging. “And what’s really interesting is that it’s fashion that’s selling. It gives me the confidence to progress and push things more.”
It’s a crucial point. Many brands show high-minded stuff on the catwalk, but really base their business on hawking tut. At Coach, it’s undiluted product that’s driving sales. “I love that our best-selling jacket is a beaten-up, beatnik jacket, and our second best-seller is a really cool biker jacket,” he said. “If I’d said to the company a couple of years ago that these are going to be our future best-sellers, they’d never have believed it.”
Let’s be clear, this isn’t groundbreaking work. The biker jacket success is helped by the trickle down effect of Saint Laurent. On his spring/summer 17 catwalk, there were versions of other garments that have been in the air for a while, especially the baseball jackets, parkas and embellished souvenir jackets. But here, Vevers gives them a friendliness and an approachability which is driving traffic in its own stores, as well as in bellwether boutiques like Colette and Opening Ceremony.
Vevers is a good guy, and it’s great to see him succeed. The show was a parade of product with the fashion button pushed. Illustrations had been ramped up by artist Gary Baseman, like googly eyes on bloody stalks, or the cowboy with a jet pack on western shirts. Baseman was also responsible for the hand-painted stripes for a large printed check, purposeful drips escaping from its lines.
That’s it from London Collections Men. Bye! Oh wait. Two young designers made a play for a new workwear aesthetic on the final day of the city’s shows. Kiko Kostadinov is fresh out of Central Saint Martins, and already has stockists for his take on Japanese workwear: Dover Street Market will carry his work from next month. Strong was a jacket in Tyvek, as well as jackets with sleeve detailing that allows for an arm to be ruched up. The collection had a nicely moody air. It was a promising start.
Already stocked at Dover Street Market is Liam Hodges, a graduate of the Royal College of Art who’s making a name with his bloke-y rough-cut take on fashion. For Spring/Summer 17, Hodges hit pay dirt with a Dickies collaboration, an American workwear brand long appropriated by those who’ve never touched a cement mixer in their lives. Here, Hodges made hay, slicing up trousers, corrupting blousons, then throwing in some of his signature chopped up sweatshirts for good measure.
I’d be willing to bet a substantial amount that Hodges has the worst teeth in fashion, possibly the worst teeth in the whole history of clothing design. There are huge gaps in the front, others greying and giving up the ghost. Happily for dental hygiene fans, Hodges has used an X-ray of his ruinously terrible teeth as a print on T-shirts, along with the grammatically troubled slogan “IM OK”. He’s doing more than OK. He’s one of London’s most promising. And that’s London done. Next is Florence, for Gosha Rubchinskiy and Raf Simons.