Let’s get started! You’re the senior archivist for Coach. What an amazing job to have! How did you fall into this career?
Believe it or not you can go to school for Archives. I specialized in Archives at Pratt Institute here in Manhattan where I got my Master’s of Science in Library and Information Science.
What’s your average day like at the Coach archives?
The Archive is always working with Design to help them create new product so we are always getting visitors. And since the Archive department is the keeper of vintage Coach product, in addition to past catalogs and clippings, we also work as a branding resource for the company. It’s our job to know everything about the brand from a historical point of view. This knowledge is used by the company — sometimes it is the story behind a logo, or a bag, or a leather that helps explain our heritage and who we are today.
How do you work with the design team to come up with new styles for Coach?
The design team uses the archive collection to spark new ideas and reference our heritage. Whenever a new collection is being developed the design team visits the Archive for inspiration and as the archivist I help guide the designers to things I think they might find interesting. We are also used for very specific requests throughout the design process – perhaps to reference a vintage industrial closure from the 60’s, an equestrian buckle from the 70’s, a travel kit from the 50’s, and so on. It’s these details that make-up our Coach brand DNA and such a great resource for our design team to have direct access to the historical pieces.
What is the difference in the look and feel of bags of 50 years ago to the ones that are being made now?
Well by 1963 we were well-known for our Glove Tanned Cowhide still our most famous Coach leather that mimicked the feel of a baseball glove. Our bags at the time were designed to combine both form (our first leather tote was inspired by the paper bag) and function (we’ve always had plenty of thoughtfully placed internal pockets and closures). I think this form and function conversation is an ongoing one for the Coach and really makes our product special.
Of the bags in your collection, which two are your most prized pieces?
It’s hard for me to pick only two favorite pieces! I would pick rare early iconic pieces – we have a really great navy Duffle from the early 1970s with a metal Coach logo. Then I would pick a vintage Penny also from the early 1970s. Both of these bags really tell the brand story and showcase what makes Coach distinctive.
What would you say makes the bags at Coach unique?
What makes Coach unique now is the same thing that made Coach unique in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. We have always been known for our quality and craftsmanship as a leathergoods company. With Bonnie Cashin our first Creative director, we became known for our “look” which included forward-leaning shapes, buttery-soft leather, and industrial hardware like the now iconic Coach turnlock.
What did you like most about working with the Selby on this video?*
I think it felt very true to life, and plus the Selby has such a fun worldview. It’s my wife Lauren and I going to a beach under the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s me in the Archive working with Jack from Design. You get to see behind the scenes in the Archive too, look closely at what I am putting on the table!
Besides fashion do you have any other creative outlets or passions?
My wife and I make jewelry, and I am obsessed with making skull rings at the moment. Jewelry is something that both of our families have always dabbled in so we have great teachers and they give us tools too! I also spent a good chunk of time fronting a punk rock band a few years back so that never truly leaves you.
Which city or location do you find the most inspiring for fashion?
New York City and specifically Brooklyn for sure.
* Check back on Monday, the 18th of February, for the launch of the Selby’s short film on Jed.