Those among us who really love a certain few fashion brands know full well, that affection doesn't exactly stop short at the cash wrap. No, no...our curiosity goes way deeper than that. From the secret suede lining of a sumptuous handbag to the funky contrast stitching of a tasseled bootie, we love all the beautiful details that go into building our favorite lines.
Enter Style HQ: A shiny new column that indulges our shared obsession with the behind-the-scenes worlds of fashion's most coveted collections. And, well, we couldn't think of a more fitting brand to kick it off than Coach
, which, at 70 years and counting, continues on its path to world handbag
domination (hello classic Duffel!).
Here, on our very first visit, we got a personal tour of Coach's
sleek NYC offices — and its very well-dressed employees — from the brand's SVP of Design Management, Kimberly Price. Were we surprised to learn she used to carry a Coach bag in high school? Like, who didn't? Read on for our own little window into Coach world...and a closer look at the spring/summer 2012 collection.
Photographed by Mark Iantosca
Kimberly standing in front of the inspiration wall.
When I was in high-school, having a Coach bag was like a badge of honor, and I still look for early vintage ones in that classic shade of caramel. Were you a Coach fanatic before you took this role?
"My first bag in high school was a Coach bag, so you can say I’ve always been a fan. I’m not a vintage collector though; my taste is more modern. So, you might see me carrying a bag we’re testing out for a future season, rather than something from the archives."
Welcome to Coach!
The Hamptons Weekend Straw Hangtag Tote and the Charla Wedge from the spring '12 collection.
What do you love most about your offices?
"That’s easy. Coach is located in our old factory building, so there’s a lot of history here, and details that you wouldn’t find elsewhere. For example, these beautiful old doors on all the floors, skylights, and the white painted brick in the stairwells. Because we’re so far west and there are so few tall buildings near us, there are great views from every window. Lastly, we have an amazing archive right next door, with product from every decade of Coach’s existence. I can look at a men’s baseball glove from the 1950s, a tote bag Bonnie Cashin designed in the '60s, or a collaboration we did a few years ago. It’s such a valuable resource, and one that few brands have."
The Coach inspiration wall.
The Kristin Embossed Leather Sage Bag and the Kristin Woven Crossbody Bag from the spring '12 collection.
What inspires you most about the Coach sensibility and brand?
"Our rich history and the fact that we’re a classic American brand. Also, it’s amazing to be part of a brand that has 70 years of design to draw upon."
All in day's work.
How long does it take you to get dressed every morning? Is Coach a daily essential in your wardrobe?
"I get dressed fast! I have a young child, so I don’t have the luxury of a leisurely morning routine. I do have a bit of a uniform in that I like a minimalist dress with a strappy/chunky heel, so that streamlines things. Coach is a daily essential in that I always carry a Coach bag. I tend to gravitate toward neutral-colored bags — blacks and grays — in simple shapes."
Madison and Chelsea Bags from the fall '11 collection.
Where the magic happens.
We've also photographed some of your very stylish co-workers. Do you get sartorial inspiration from other Coachettes? Swap styling ideas?
"All my colleagues are stylish, so it’s interesting to see what they wear to work each day. Most of them carry a Coach bag, so I’m always curious about what bag they choose and why and how it reflects their personal style. You can easily be a fashion anthropologist here."
Check out the hangtags on the Hamptons Weekend straw tote!
A heavy piece of machinery for such cute bags.
If there were one Coach bag I needed to have in my wardrobe at all times, what would it be?
"The Duffle. It was introduced in the early 1970s, but remains timeless."
The Madison Caroline Dowel in embossed metallic python, from spring '12.
What inspired the return of the Coach Classics collection? Was it just a deeper exploration of the brand heritage?
"It was the result of a few things: the 70th anniversary of Coach taking place this year, the popularity of vintage Coach — both wearing it and collecting it — and the 1970s influence on the runways. The timing seemed right."
Senior Designer at Coach Leatherware, H. Lisa Kim.
The Sofia Heel from fall '11.
What do you love most about the upcoming spring/summer collection, and what details will be factoring heavily in our lives next spring?
"I love the new Willis bags. They’re minimalist, but the silhouette is playful. It’s based on a design from the early '90s, but it features the turnlock, which is a Bonnie innovation from the '60s, and the shape is inspired by a collection from the '70s. The Willis features a lot of Coach history in one single bag."
Designer of Men's Accessories, Joseph Hicks.
Associate Designer of Handbags, Catherine Meyer.
The Luisa Stacked Loafer from fall '11.
Holiday time is coming up...what Coach gifts will you be giving the most?
"Everyone thinks of handbags when it comes to Coach, but we also have great women’s accessories — clutches, gloves, iPhone cases and more. They make great stocking stuffers."
Lastly, the signature R29 question: If your personal style had a theme song, what would it be?
"I don’t think my personal style has a theme song! But I do love to listen to Phoenix in the morning when I'm getting dressed...does that count?"