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Coach and Rodarte Team Up, Confuse Us With Collaboration

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But... why?

Photo: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

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Is Coach the new Target? The heritage handbag brand-turned-dinosaur enthusiast is launching a collaboration with Rodarte, the Los Angeles-based fashion brand known for its indie aesthetic, exorbitant price tags, and even indie-r clientele.

WWD writes that the collection will include one handbag and multiple apparel items for a total of 15 pieces, and will be available starting in April at certain Coach stores and, plus “specialty retailers.” According to a representative from Rodarte, the collab grew out of a friendship between Rodarte designers Laura and Kate Mulleavy and Coach’s creative director Stuart Vevers, and it will explore “the idea of mixing the vocabularies of New York and Los Angeles.”

For those keeping track, this is just the latest move by Coach to refresh (or re-refresh?) its image. The brand — originally known for quality leather wear, then more famously for logo-covered wristlets beloved by tweens — has worked hard to go from interlocking Cs to high-fashion runway shows.

At the same time, however, it’s rolled out a signature dinosaur motif complete with a mascot named Rexy, plus a Disney collaboration with Mickey Mouse, and hired Chloe Grace Moretz and Selena Gomez, both idols of the teenage set, for splashy ad campaigns.

The cartoons, logos, and teen idols all seem like efforts to reach — or perhaps keep — the younger demographic of female shoppers by being relevant, playful, attainable, and utterly Instagrammable.

Which is basically the opposite of Rodarte. Started by the Mulleavy sisters in 2005, the label has always been at home on the runway, where its ethereal and not-totally-wearable designs have been admired by celebrity fans like Kirsten Dunst and Sofia Coppola. While it has collaborated with lower-priced brands and retailers, most memorably Target, Rodarte isn’t a household name; instead, it’s floated along, often even under the radar of the fashion week set (just today, the brand announced it’s moving off the typical New York Fashion Week schedule in favor of an “intimate presentation” in Paris).

And perhaps most notably, the Rodarte aesthetic — moody, gauzy, full of obscure references — couldn’t be more at odds with Coach, known for classic leather goods and, most recently, a vintage Americana vibe.

As Racked’s Eliza Brooke has asked, what does Coach want?

Update: January 25th, 2017, 2:39 p.m.

This article has been updated with a statement from a Rodarte representative, along with details of the collection’s release date and inspiration.