The powerful and optimistic style of the 1970s is back with a modern edge
The affordable luxury fashion brand, Coach is celebrating its 75th birthday by revisiting their golden years with a relaunch of what was, at the time, a limited edition handbag from 1972.
Creative director Stuart Vevers is putting a modern spin on the previously limited edition “Classic Pouch” handbag, now calling it the “Saddle Bag” in its revised form.
This announcement comes at a time when the fashion industry is really starting to see a resurgence of popularity in ’70s-era pieces.
“I think bringing back the Classic Pouch bag is a perfect demonstration of how Coach is able to present buyers with an iconic bag while keeping the latest trends in mind,” says retro fashion enthusiast Taylor Adams.
The 1970s were a time of pantsuits, polyester, tight clothing and new textures. These were trends that extended beyond clothing, of course — the furniture people had in their homes, the cars they drove and the disco music they danced to were equally loud and dramatic.
Guys had shaggy hairstyles and wore rock n’ roll tees, while the women embraced their femininity with navel-grazing neckline dresses and maxi length suede coats.
Fashion in the ’70s was colourful and playful, with a strong focus on sex appeal. Now, 46 years later, fashion designers are creating new retro collections with an emphasis on silk blouses and high-waisted pants that echo the era.
For 19-year-old Adams, the 1970s exist only in magazines and online retrospectives. However, the flared jeans and patterned knit tank-top she wears wandering around Calgary’s Chinook Centre look as though they came right out of that iconic decade. Adams finishes off her ensemble with white Adidas Superstar running shoes with black zigzag stripe details, in order to add a modern touch to the look.
“When I think of the ’70s trend, I think mostly of the denim, the exciting prints, and the suede apparel,” says Adams.
Think back to the costumes in the 2013 film American Hustle. Amy Adams played Sydney, the lover slash partner-in-crime to Christian Bale’s Irving Rosenfeld. She donned a nude wrap dress and white and brown multi-toned fur coat with silver heels as her staple apparel, the movie vividly embracing ’70s aesthetics. From the Diane von Fürstenberg wrap dress and maxi-coats falling over wide leg pants, to earthy tones and faux-fur coats, the fashion of the age was well represented throughout the movie.
“I think the ’70s trend is definitely making a comeback because of the effortless retro look you can achieve for pretty much any occasion,” says Taylor Adams, “I have added more silk blouses with bows and vintage t-shirts to my wardrobe.”
The modern spin on boho-chic silhouettes embraces ruffled blouses and skirts inspired by the gypsies of early 20th century Europe. It is a craze that ties the vintage or retro phenomenon to colours, shapes and textures of hippie influence in the fashion world.
Ultimately, it targets those who are comfortable wearing flare denim with a lace blouse and fringe accessories.
“Personally, my favorite part is the suede, because it is so easy to pair with something feminine or casual,” says Adams.
Owner Helen Nguyen of Calgary boutique Coco & Violet echoes this sentiment, saying she finds girls in their 20s and 30s are more open to the idea of dressing retro.
Nguyen notes that her clients, who are in their 40s and older, are simply not comfortable trading in their skinny jeans for a flared pant like they used to wear in their childhood.
“People prior to the skinny jean were comfortable with their flares, when the skinny jean came out people took a long time getting use to that look. And now they are back taking time to get use to the flare denim,” says Nguyen.
Women in Calgary tend to dress with a more contemporary style in mind, but they still like to be a part of the ongoing trend, according to Nguyen.
As such, women in their 40s are not revamping their entire wardrobe to mimic classic ’70s clothing pieces like the younger generation is doing, but they are still buying single pieces to retrofit their style.
Personal shopper Phaedra Godchild, a partner with the Calgary company Styleista, has a large clientele of working businesswoman in Calgary.
“Our clients are still conservative, so with them we have to do a subtle influence on the ’70s trend,” says Godchild.
Instead of purchasing a flare denim, “a wide leg dress pant, which is also very ’70s, are an easy transition for work,” says Godchild.
Fashion designers like Diane von Fürstenberg, Rebecca Minkoff and Gucci, among others, revisited the 1970s era during Spring Fashion Week shows in 2015 because there are many mainstream trends, like the faux-fur coat, to replicate.
Lisa Armstrong, fashion director at the Daily Telegraph, said in an article about Gucci’s show during Spring Fashion Week: “History always looks better second or third time around – and the version of ’70s fashion that Michele served up on Gucci’s catwalk was, in every sense, fantastic.”
Coach’s latest creation comes in multiple colours and two sizes all made with refined soft leather and a contrast edge, and hope to garner the same praise from fashion pros and buyers alike.
“I love this bag as it is easy to pair with many outfits so I am happy to hear this bag will have a more modern twist and give my outfits more of an edge,” says Adams.
The Saddle Bag 23 with glove-tanned leather (pictured above) is available now from the retailer, and online, for a groovy $395.
Thumbnail by Jesse Yardley.
The editor responsible for this article is Michaela Ritchie, firstname.lastname@example.org