There was a chill in the air at the close of Monday’s New York Fashion Week offering — not due to the eight inches of snow forecast, but because Peta was back. The animal rights activists, who reinstated their shameless catwalk breaking and entering tactics last September, launched their first attack this fashion month on Coach.
Only a few looks had passed at the 2pm show before a woman in sparkling stilettos burst out of a side door and unfurled a poster which read “COACH: Let Cows LIVE” while "Leather Kills" was writ in black across her partially exposed breasts. She was taken down in seconds and dragged, limp, out. In a statement PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said “PETA is calling on the brand to lose the leather and urging consumers to refuse to swipe their card for anything made of an animal’s sliced-off skin.”
Coach was also targeted last season, followed by Burberry, Gucci and Hermès. “It was scary,” said its creative director Stuart Vevers pre-show, recalling last year’s episode. “Me and the team have put months of work into this. My first reaction was, ‘oh my god, it’s ruined’.” Concern will now spread amongst other leather-using brands, not least because Coach’s increased security and thorough ID checks still failed to keep protesters out.
It did not overly disrupt Vevers’ well conceived collection, however, as he persevered on his mission to transform Coach into a Gen-Z status symbol provider. This season that equated to scuffed-up biker boots, full-length pouf taffeta skirts paired with cotton blazers and pre-battered, Seventies shearling jackets. “The idea is they’ve stolen it from their grandma’s closet,” he said, tapping into the grandparent aesthetic rife on TikTok. Gen-Z Londoners Yasmin Finney, of Heartstopper and Doctor Who acclaim, and Mia Regan, model and girlfriend of Romeo Beckham, completed the vision sitting front row.
Also adapting her brand to younger buyers was Tory Burch, who took over the New York Public Library that evening cheered on by actors Uma Thurman, Awkwafina and Natasha Lyonne in the audience. Irina Shayk and Emily Ratajkowski modelled in a collection that offered staple trenches and polka-dot, floral ruched frocks, but still flirted with fun.
Scarves resembled tinsel, iridescent embellishments brightened otherwise plain overcoats and twirled mini dresses looked like pencil sharpenings. “We are definitely getting new younger customers, which is wonderful,” said Burch afterwards. “But we are also challenging the [existing] customers to think differently, and be more interested in her own individuality.”
Still, stepping back out onto Fifth Avenue, the well-dressed ladies of the front row only had Peta on their lips. “Does this mean that they will do the whole show circuit again?” one queried. Her answer will come when London Fashion Week commences this Friday.