One of the most recognizable American artists, Jean-Michel Basquiat, brought innovation to the art world and beyond, becoming an icon to many, especially creatives of color. Inspired by his lasting legacy, the heritage fashion brand Coach has partnered with the Basquiat estate to release a one-of-a-kind collection timed perfectly for the fall.
First appearing on the runway during A/W 2020, this exclusive capsule includes a wide array of bold bags, Ready to Wear pieces, and accessories featuring the late artist’s iconic artwork and phrases. Basquiat left a significant impact on art, fashion and music, and his influence lives on.
“Basquiat is one of my heroes,” Coach Creative Director Stuart Vevers said in a statement. ““He embodied the creative, inclusive spirit of New York and was a force for change in his community. I am proud to celebrate his work and values and help bring them to a new generation.”
“I am proud to celebrate his work and values and help bring them to a new generation.” – Coach Creative Director Stuart Vevers
For the official Coach X Basquiat campaign, Coach enlisted ambassador Michael B. Jordan, Megan Thee Stallion and an inclusive cast of rising Black and Brown creatives to honor Basquiat’s legacy. ESSENCE caught up with six of the campaign’s stars to get their take on Basquiat’s impact, Black art and their very first Coach piece.
“I was first introduced to Basquiat back in high school. I was taking art history and he was one of the many artists we learned about. His life story and many of the attributes that led to his fame really stuck with me and made me appreciate him even more. One thing that always stuck out to me is that Basquiat always put out what he wanted with no regret and stood by his pieces. Even if some things weren’t received the way he wanted [them] to be, he still was behind [them] and that’s something not everyone can do. The best thing about Black art is that it is powerful. Black art is beautiful, bold and striking. Every piece is a new incredible story waiting to be told.
I love Coach because they’re not afraid to try something new and it’s shown through their many collaborations. My favorite piece is the beat shoulder bag in ivory. It has the crown on it—which was a staple in Basquiat’s work. This was actually my first Coach piece, and I feel incredibly honored to have it be in the Basquiat collaboration. There’s so much history behind the bag and the artist himself, and the fact that he was from New York makes it even more intimate.”
“I faintly remember learning of Basquiat when I was in high school. However, it wasn’t until college that I started delving into his work and who he was as a person. In an urban studies class I had, I learned how street art and graffiti made many places that were once considered ‘undesirable and dangerous’ become super popular and interesting. He didn’t confine himself to one particular medium. He expressed himself through graffiti, painting and music. I’m a fan of the idea that it’s good to have an entire toolbox of creative talents instead of just homing in exclusively on one. I believe that you get to broaden your horizons as an artist and learn more.
I love that Coach has never been afraid to try something new with its brand and designs! Whether it’s through playful and colorful collabs or showcasing an artist’s work with a new collection. It’s like a breath of fresh air. I’m always excited to see what Coach has up its sleeves.”
“I was first introduced to Jean-Michel Basquiat and his art a couple of years ago at Art Basel. I’d heard of him briefly before, but this was my first time seeing his work in person. Jean-Michel’s art immediately sparks thought and inspiration. It made me wonder what he was feeling or trying to express about his own experience and life as a Black man through his art…. The best thing about Black art is seeing and experiencing it. It’s an unexplainable proud moment to see and celebrate other Black artists’ stories and journeys through their art. Every work of art differs in perspective, but each perspective is powerful and unique in its own way.
Coach brings back so many nostalgic memories. I got my first Coach piece as a Christmas gift from my grandfather in middle school. It was a baby blue and white small Coach bag, and I was beyond happy that I finally got my first piece.”
“I was living in Frankfurt at the time, spending the day chilling with one of my good friends. We sat together and watched old footage of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s interviews and documentary clips for hours on a video projector. His story and energy were so mesmerizing to me, and I think that’s why my first ‘encounter’ with him still stands out in my head.
I felt so classy and cute the first time I wore Coach! My mom actually wore this beautiful Coach bifold wallet in beige and cream in the ’90s, and one day, I took it to school as a little purse with a matching beige jacket on. It had some metallic elements involved and the classic Coach logo printed all over. It was so luxurious and pretty. I was always mesmerized by my mom’s style in general, but this specific piece had a special place in my heart. I felt like it brought my outfit full circle. It’s such a little thing, but it gave me such a nice feeling of completion.”
“As a creative, I’d always heard Basquiat’s name referenced in relation to art or fashion, and in my twenties I finally got to see his work on exhibition in New York. It felt completely relevant to the visuals and artistry we see now that I can’t help but think he was an artist way ahead of his time. I feel that art made by a Black artist has a richer storytelling aspect to it because of the many trials and tribulations we as a people have had to endure.
I think I got my first Coach bag when I was 12 or 13, and at that time it was THE It Bag to have. I just remember feeling so excited and happy to have a fashion staple to be able to show off at school the next day. It really was the first piece in my closet that I truly cherished.”
“I was introduced to Basquiat in my early twenties. Of course, I had heard of him before but in my early twenties, I was still living in New York City and was dating a painter who was really immersed in that underground New York street art scene. Basquiat was raw and chaotic.
My first Coach piece was a green faux-fur coat I wore in a music video. Coach lent it to me. It was lavish. For a luxury brand, it’s pretty accessible.”
Guaranteed to be a fan favorite of art and fashion lovers alike, the Coach x Basquiat capsule is available now. Shop the full collection on coach.com before it sells out.