Coach x Jean Michel Basquiat: When Art and Fashion Collide

The collaboration that proves style can be political as much as it can be pretty.

Words By Jessica Boland

Coach, the iconic American accessories brand, has released a brand-new line to pay homage with the renowned and groundbreaking New York City artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The line celebrates and honours Basquiat’s iconic and important work and its relevance today, which includes a range of side bags, backpacks, bum bags and even clothing items.

The range of bags is expertly crafted, as we’ve come to expect from Coach. Classic leather and suede designs formed into timeless and wearable designs with a range to suit the style of literally anyone.

However, the classic, luxury designs Coach is so synonymous with are disrupted in the most wonderful way. They are smattered with brilliant and chaotic artwork by Basquiat, a wild contradiction to Coach’s clean elegance. The artworks incorporated into the leather are unmistakable to anyone familiar with Basquiat, with Coach featuring some of the artist’s most iconic trademark designs.

Prints feature colourful abstract imagery and phrases inspired by African, Aztec, and Greek cultures, as well as references to African-American history.

This collection makes more than just a fashion statement, it makes a political one too. The pieces are a reflection of social turmoil and have become a beacon of rebellion and political unrest, something incredibly fitting and relevant in the current global climate and a key point of inspiration throughout the campaign.

Basquiat’s work represents rebellion and activism in the face of political oppression, and their relevancy, however unfortunate, continues to resonate with society today. There’s just something about seeing art that is so famous for its rebellion and political voice portrayed where it’s not meant to be, that makes the message stand out even more. The ferocity of Basquiat’s emotions catches you off guard.

The chic and upscale style that Coach typically embodies is contrasted so intensely by Basquiat’s grungy, urban style, to create a dynamic and show-stopping collections, as well as the strongest of statements.

The juxtaposition of the two clashing styles is meant to represent the throbbing heart of New York City, a city with energy that will never cease, and an identity that is constantly changing.

The bright, rough strokes that Basquiat was so renowned for are completely eye-catching, jumping off the muted, matte shades of leather. Basquiat’s vivid, aggressive artwork sprawled across the bags makes for an overwhelmingly dynamic accessory and the perfect statement piece, for those bold enough to try.

It stands for fashion, but it also stands for justice, for activism, and for rebellion, proving that fashion is so much more than just ‘pretty’.