It's a Family Affair

Coach promotes a line featuring works of the late Jean-Michel Basquiat in its stores and via AR games.
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Posted September 29, 2020

In these tumultuous times, family ties have emerged as an essential source of security and comfort. Building on that idea, in early September, Coach launched a fall campaign in collaboration with the estate of the late New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (he died in 1988 at the age of 28) that features members of his family, along with images and quotes of influencers also representing the brand, including Jennifer Lopez, Michael B. Jordan and others.

New York-based Coach says its Basquiat line is inspired by the current moment, spotlighting the neo-expressionist artist’s vision of bold visual statements, activism through art, and his desire, as he once expressed, “to be part of the family of artists.”

“Basquiat is one of my heroes,” said Stuart Vevers, the specialty retailer’s Creative Director. “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.”

Coach’s Basquiat line, highlighting designer handbags, wallets, shoes, scarves, T-shirts and more, bearing his works, is being promoted by the retailer in both bricks-and-mortar installations and interactive games.

Among the places Coach’s efforts in the former category are on display is the Raffles City Shanghai skyscraper. There, the retailer’s design team created a pop-up store in the shopping mall housed within tower’s lower levels that features a mixture of raw elements and shearling that helps bring the collection to life. Its store in Tokyo, meantime, was updated with bold wallpaper prints of Basquiat’s works, and its Paris store’s makeover includes a large placard bearing the full version of his family-related quote mentioned earlier: “I’m not an elitist, but an autodidact who would like to be part of the family of artists.”

Central to all of those installations is one of Basquiat’s best-known works, a drawing of a dinosaur-shaped Pez dispenser wearing a crown (1984). That piece, says Coach, “suggests a statement on pop culture, commodity and inequality.”

The Pez dispenser is also highly visible in the digital/interactive programs that Coach created to heighten interest in the Basquiat line on the part of younger shoppers. Those efforts include an augmented reality (AR) filter that allows customers to scan a QR code in-store or in one of Coach’s pop-ups and use it to place one of his pieces in a setting of their choosing. Another similar initiative is an AR game on the hugely popular TikTok platform in China that the retailer says explores Basquiat’s works in a playful and interactive way.