It’s no secret that Coach is in flux. After the departure of longtime creative head Reed Krakoff, the company has decided to pivot its public image in a more fashion-savvy direction. First, that meant bringing on handbag savant Stuart Vevers, late of Loewe and Mulberry, and allowing him to set a tone for the brand’s aesthetic future. The next step, it appears, is shifting its retail strategy – there are going to be far fewer Coach stores in the near future, according to Women’s Wear Daily.

Last week, Coach announced that it would close 70 under-performing North American stores in the first half of 2015, which is likely wise, considering the more fashionable and expensive direction that Vevers intends to take the brand. Just from my own observation while visiting my parents in Georgia, Coach has many stores in suburban malls with few (if any) other luxury retailers and little in the way of a luxury customer base, and while it may have long been possible to sell $300 handbags in those markets, Coach’s desire to raise its prices to line up with a more fashion-focused product line will probably make sustaining business at those locations untenable.

In addition to the closures, remaining Coach boutiques will get a new concept that’s more in line with the brand’s new aesthetic direction, starting with flagships in major markets like New York City.

For bargain-savvy shoppers, both Coach’s promotional schedule and its outlet strategy are shifting. The brand indicates that it will move to a biannual sale schedule, which is in line with other luxury brands and retailers. In the past, Coach’s sales and promotions had been more diffuse, and customers who are used to waiting for their discount cards to come in the mail for multiple mid-season events per year will likely be disappointed in the tightening of the markdown reins.

At the outlets, product assortment will be the biggest shift. Only two locations will close, and in the remaining stores, the now-ubiquitous logo bags will make way for a wider variety of leather options. We’ve heard some irritation from our Forum members about the lack of leather at the Coach outlets, so perhaps this news will create some satisfied customers. WWD didn’t make it clear whether the logo options would be scuttled from the outlets altogether or just drastically reduced, so we’ll have to wait and see.

All of these changes come on the tail of news about Coach’s sinking profits, and 2015 is expected to be a rough year while the brand attempts to right itself. Do you have high hopes for Coach?

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • Adrianne

    This makes me very happy!!! I had strayed away from Coach because of the market saturation of the logo purses….which I can’t stand! I much prefer leather unless I’m buying a Louis. It had been years since I had purchased a Coach bag until I found a gorgeous Madison Hair Calf and Ostrich satchel through the online outlet sales. It will be nice to see the company go back to its roots an put out more leather/quality bags instead if the cheap/ trendy logo signature line.

    • Monaco

      I completely agree. I do not currently own a coach purse because of the saturation of the logo on every bag. This isn’t the 00s anymore and no fashionista want to be a walking billboard.

  • Sandy

    Yes, I hope they can turn it around. I do not purchase Coach at this point in my life but I certainly did was I was younger. I think Coach is a wonderful mid-priced option. Not everyone can afford premiere designer goods and Coach is a well made reasonably priced alternative.

  • Jan

    I’ve only recently (in the last year) had the money to indulge myself with multiple handbags, and Coach is the only thing I’ve ever had. My first wallet and handbag were gifts from my mother. I’m sentimental when it comes to the brand. Everything I have is leather, no logos. Weeding those bags out is a good move. This latest wave that hit the website a couple of days ago had me running to the local Coach store. What I see right now is…me, and what could still interest me in the future–gunmetal hardware that I’d love to have, but… I feel an urgency to buy because after looking at the upcoming Fall collection I’m just not sure. I like the overall theme, but the word “edit” keeps resounding in my head. I need a wallet and a couple of wristlets would be nice, but I haven’t seen pictures of what’s up and coming for accessories. I wish Coach would give us more of a transition period from old to new.

  • Lori

    Coach really has to find their target buyer to get the market back. And what about all those logo loving ladies? What happens to them? I think Coach is having an identity crisis and in order to figure out how to save themselves, they first need to figure out their market. Because really… do we need another Gucci? Or do we need a quality Coach for people who can’t afford $1000 for an “inexpensive” designer bag?

    • Insightful, IMO. When we first started buying Coach bags, the leather was “H” weight, and the bags tended to be ultra conservative looking, kinda clunky. But they were selling these types into the 1990’s. For my tastes, they represented “a quality Coach for people who can’t afford $1000…” Perhaps, they never were the definition of a “designer” bag company, and again, IMO, I believe they have a brand identity problem with the group who would casually spend $1k+ for a bag. Now, to put this in perspective, I buy some of their conservative totes to carry camera equipment in…My wife, a few more colorful items I bought for her for everyday wear. We hold some shares of the company stock, however, and I do believe that they are more likely to be purchased rather than go out of business. They are big in China. Now is a good time to buy a bit of their stock, hold onto it. But what do I know?

  • Aurora

    I think that to appeal to a customer base at a higher price point, paring or eliminating the signature bags is a smart move, especially from the outlets. So many girls and young women carry inexpensive signature bags that they can find at the outlet for under $100, and the plethora of them on the street makes them seem commonplace. As someone who is a fan of Coach leather bags, this strategy makes me very happy. The upswing in prices for boutique bags is something that I’m still getting used to. I don’t plan on deserting Coach for Michael Kors or Kate Spade, because I simply do not like the quality of those bags, but with the Coach price point going up I’ll probably end up buying fewer bags than I have the last several years… which is probably a good thing for my wallet!

  • Brielle

    Coach started my bag obsession about 10 years ago and they hold a special place in my heart. They can make a wonderful bag….comparable in quality to LV, Givenchy, Mulberry and Balenciaga (of which I have a bag from each of these companies to compare. This only includes Coach’s higher priced leather bags…not the fabric bags). I am thrilled to see the change with bags turning over to the outlet every other month. That reason alone is why I left…pay $500 for a new bag and find it for 60% off and in the outlet bin a few weeks later. They will turn it around but it will take some time. I’m doubtful that they will be able to get customers to pay $1k though. Also, I wish they would make a staple bag…ala Speedy, Alexa or City. Same bag that is tweaked in its color and hardware choice each season.

    • WhosThatBag

      I would consider the Bucket Bag to be a Coach signature look. They should maintain this bag year-round. It’s not the most fancy, but it’s practical and timeless.

  • ami

    When I started my interest with bags 10 years ago it was all high-end brands for me: LV, Gucci, Burberry, Bottega Veneta, Chanel, YSL, etc. As the years go by, the price points of these brands have gone up astronomically and though I could still afford the bags I scoff at the prices and could not get myself to fork over so much money. Now I’m a fan of Marc by Marc Jacobs. I went inside a Coach boutique over the weekend and was surprised with how different and sophisticated the new bags looked at prices which even I would approve of. I walked away with a baby blue Madison North/South tote in saffiano leather which was on sale.

    • Kbend3r

      I feel that I make fairly decent money and I love a good purse. I still don’t understand how so many women can afford, or will pay, $2, 000 to $7,000 for a purse. And this can be a small purse for a few brands

      • damarisr79

        I’ve always thought that even if I had millions to spare I would never be the type to own $10K bags in different colors. I think that’s ridiculous. I like luxury items as much as any girl, but I’d feel bad spending that much $$$ on something that’s likely to go out of style.

  • Abbi

    I hope they dont price all their pieces above $2K…im liking the new designs but not that much and it would be a shame to see it go down the Mulberry road…

  • Cass@

    I have high hopes for them. I have only purchased one leather bag from them 10 years ago and stopped when they started becoming the new mallrat bag. To me these changes are necessary and are clear enough that I think will help them greatly long term.

  • Susie

    Never had any interest in their bags.

    This may just change that.

  • Betty Jean Boyd-Barrolle

    I do love Coach,it is my go to brand,I am not a fan of the over saturated logo styles and own some of the older limited logo styles which I still love and use,but this is a needed move for sure.I hope Coach can turn this around because the quality has never let me down.

  • jburgh

    My first nice bag was a Coach, and it was 1974 when Bonnie Cashin was their designer. It was and still is a beautiful leather bag. I may support them again if they bring their products back to the US for manufacture.

  • Alex575

    Coach really needed to do something. The other issue I had with Coach was the beginning of the “EBay Coach Factory” which, I’m guessing, was a beta online outlet (to see if there was a market) and evidently there was since they now have their own Coach Factory online store. Unfortunately, the quality of the bags, which I learned from Purse Forum, were second rate (no dustbag, cheaper flimsy leather etc.) and made specifically to sell at the outlet stores. This really turned me off on the brand because it was like a bait and switch; I thought that the bags were older models that were discounted because they were out of style, but not so.

    If they want to make a cheaper/inexpensive line than they should call it something other than Coach, ie “Marc by Marc Jacobs,” “McQ” etc., but the way they did it I no longer shop with Coach.

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  • FashionableLena

    Because alienating their customer base worked so well for Mulberry…
    Most of my Coach bags are vintage. I do own 1 logo bag, and I love it because it’s perfect for rainy days. Most of the women I work with (I’m a teacher) love Coach, but I doubt they would spend more than $300-400 for one of their bags. Unfortunate because I would hate for them to lose the middle class to cater to an economic class that isn’t interested in their bags.

  • Doro

    It’s interesting you feel substantial business may be untenable due to a lack of luxury customer base in your parents town or city. I live north of Georgia about 200 or so miles and there aren’t many luxury brands available in the mid size city where I live but the luxury brands are being bought and worn by many people. Just walking in our mall with my daughter visiting from out of town we saw LV, Prada, Burberry, YVL and many more. My daughter was carrying a Mulberry and I was carrying a Gucci. It is not unusual and it is frequent to see these bags everywhere including grocery stores. And no these were not fakes although there are always those. So here’s hoping there is enough interest in a high quality Coach brand so this American company can survive.

  • Lola

    Coach is not a well-known brand in Europe among young people. I have purchased a vintage leather bag from them on ebay (20 USD) from the 70’s a few years ago, because I loved the shape of the bag. When it arrived I was surprised by its great quality. Now this bag is my favorite festival going, hobo style bag and it gets often favored over my Balenciaga, R&B or LV Postbag. It’s something different and people want to know what is the brand. It’s funny, but actually I have got today a leather Coach Satchel as a gift from someone who did not know the brand, but fell in love with the quality and the work for “THAT” price in an outlet… no logo, lovely red color, “classic meets modern” kind of design. I believe what they need is a proper and clear sales strategy & image definition. If they add brand heritage to a talented designer and a competitive branding team to reposition/redefine Coach on the market with a clear vision, they could fix their identity crisis.

  • Kathy1653

    I love Coach, Dooney and Rebecca Minkoff purses. They are all affordable. I cannot even imagine spending $1500 on a purse. I haven’t pursed Dooney in a long time because they lost their style and touch a few years ago. Rebecca…..I purchase all the time from her site when there is a sale. Her leather is to die for………..Many many many years ago I started purchasing Coach. Their purses are so classy. I just ordered a logo one that has leather. hahaha……Hope I don’t regret that……….The ONE complaint I have about all these companies is that they are all using the sarrafino leather. What is up with that? Anyway I will remain a faithful Coach purchaser.

  • Casey

    When it comes to quality, Coach bags really do outlast bags that are 10x more expensive. So I’m excited to see the new direction of the brand, and I wouldn’t mind if I never had to see the Coach fabric ever again.

  • XXL

    Since this strategy didn’t work for Mulberry, I don’t think it will work for coach. Mulberry is a brand I have learned to love and respect and I really wish it succeeded in its attempts. But the facts are in, brands need to learn their place. Coach has an established reputation as an affordable brand. Anyone who is willing to pay more will probably choose LV etc.

  • James

    Coach wow.. When I heared that name, years ago, I used to imagine wealth, money, class, it was just fancy.. I got my wife about 5 handbags! She loved them!! Now, we see coach. As a regular even cheap brand.. I don’t have them, same fellings for coach, nor does my wife. I don’t see them making a comeback. We won’t ever buy coach again, they lost their edge!!! Maybe Walmart would be there future

  • Sandi

    They need to go back to doing what they do best. Make mid priced, high quality bags for the American consumer. If they want to go high end, follow the auto industry and spin off a branch of Coach for that market. I’m distraught by this new direction and fear the end of the Coach we all know and love. Such a shame. Maybe next time do better market research before you bet the farm, that is, if you get a next time.

  • tjs079

    I hope the quality of the bags will improve. I have bags from the late 90s-early 00s that still look great. One is 13 years old, one of the Hamptons leather bags, and it looks almost new. I do think the factory stores have caused an over-saturation of the market, specifically with the cheaper logo bags, and have cheapened the image. I think the brand overall (retail and factory) has become too trendy with a focus on bling and hardware with less of an emphasis on quality construction. I ordered the Madison Christie bag in saffiano leather from Dillards recently and returned it. Nothing about the bag, other than the tag and the name “Coach” on the front, suggested quality or affordable luxury. I don’t know that moving the brand in a more fashion-forward direction with higher prices is the answer, however. Those who can or want to spend $1000 and up on a bag already have luxury options like Louis Vuitton and Prada if they want to impress others. Coach does not really compete in that market. I worry that alienating the upper-middle class, quality-conscious customer base in the retail stores will result in the brand losing even more ground. This customer isn’t going to be satisfied with the factory-grade bags and will move on to another brand. The Coach image has never been designer luxury like Louis Vuitton or Prada. It hasn’t, until recently, been associated with logo-obsessed bargain shoppers who don’t care about quality as much as brand recognition either. I think the classic Coach customer is one who is smart with her money, values quality materials and construction, and looks for elegant, practical, and timeless bags to carry for many years. This customer is likely too practical to spend $1000 or more on a luxury bag and won’t be likely to purchase a lesser quality bag from the factory store because she is not logo-obsessed and won’t waste her money on inferior quality. She values quality and can find it elsewhere if Coach does not want her as a customer.

    • Deathkitty27


    • Thill

      Brilliantly said!

    • Mareng

      You summarized my sentiments exactly!

    • purse freak777

      I agree. Why pay 100’s of dollars for synthetic materials.

    • purse freak777

      Coach isn’t making their purses with leather..their purses are synthetic. The handles are peeling. Now your paying for a name and fashion instead of quality. When I can’t even find the word leather in a purse are it least smell the leather I won’t buy it. If I want junk I would go to Walmart. When I go to a certain brand I expect quality and not just fashion

  • health concern

    Outlet Coach bags are NOT quality. The latest ‘stink’ about Hermes bags smelling like skunk, also applies to many Coach bags. May 2014, I had a severe toxic reaction to that odor off one of their leather purses, and am still trying to detoxify and heal from it. Outlet Coach bags are made in China, cheap, and toxic, imo. Coach wouldn’t even take back my returned purse. As it was so toxic and seriously affecting my health, I threw it away. Even walking by their latest outlet popup in Tucson affects me.

    • Really?

      You’re delusional if you think high end brands don’t make their full priced products in China. In fact the reason why so many knockoffs from other countries are getting harder to tell is because people steal the designs from the factories in china and start making their own. Coach outlet isn’t the only brand in China. Oh and walking by their store hurts you? Get over yourself.

  • MrUNC07

    Just to provide some insight/ clarity, Coach Outlet (formerly known as Factory) carries a completely separate line of product from Coach stores. The product is specifically manufactured for Outlet – and for that particular price point. The reason leather is not seen as prominently at Outlet stores is because…well, leather is a more expensive material. As many are already probably well aware, Coach Factory is definitely NOT Coach..more like “Coach”…but, at any rate it will be interesting to see how the new strategy plays out in terms of outlet vs. retail…I honestly think Coach should eliminate outlet stores, it diminishes the brand because people think they’re buying a Coach bag from Outlet and really you’re buying an overpriced fabric bag with the Coach name on it.

    • Meh

      Most luxury brands have outlets. So, closing outlets would hurt them if they trying to compete with mid-luxury or higher end brands that have outlets.

      Also, they do occasionally sell past styles that were at their full retail stores albeit in smaller percentages than their factory goods.

  • gavin

    I can relate to this. I love Coach and their new direction, but I think that the outlets are a huge detriment to their clientele. I see two Coach customers: those who love designer quality brands and really love fashion, and those who have only ever been to a factory outlet store and just buy discounted logo bags. Plus, outlet customers are uninformed and genuinely believe that they are saving money, yet most of the outlet bags are made for outlet and never sold at a boutique store. At my mall, the Coach boutique is full price, I will never go to an outlet, but it’s the only high-end store at my mall and I think it has trouble finding that well-informed and fashion conscious customer in my area..

  • TeeHee HeeHee

    I think what they have to do is close the damn outlet stores. Increasing the price of the regular store merchandise will not mean a thing because there were still alot of hoochie mamas got the factory-made one. The long time customers want exclusive items. The brand saturation with opeing so many outlet really hurts the brand. The next to follow suit into oblivion is Michael Kors.

  • vjohns

    I usually purchase from Coach outlet online sales but I was recently dropped from their promotional invites I am in a number of social groups so I would buy many items as gifts and door prizes for various events. Once I was told by email from their rude customer service representatives that I would not be getting sales invites, I decided to take my funds else and never shop or wear COACH again.. I very seldom carry a Coach bag, but I do enjoying giving items as gifts to friends and family who like the brand. . With that notice, I decided that I would stop buying the brand all together. Now reading this article, I see why this happened. I am just disappointed that Coach did not notify me that I would be dropped from future sales or indicate why I was dropped. . I still get the notice of the sale but on sale day I am not given entry to the sale which they say is by invitation only. I say GOODBYE COACH because if the sale is invite only then why advertise it to me. It appears that Coach my be headed in the same direction of JCPenney. Consumer alienation with an unvetted strategy….

  • segacasper

    I’m curious just recently purchased a coach bag with no creed number I know its real the quality is top notch,the emblem on bag says Coach New York..can anyone tell me more about the emblem and no creed number?

    • Kathy1653

      I would never purchase a Coach without the creed number. In most cases it means it’s a fake. Go to youtube and check out videos how to spot a fake Coach.

  • Victoria

    COACH IS GREAT!!!!! I LOVE COACH BAGS!!!! PLEASE DON’T EVER STOP MAKING THEM!!!! I LOVE COACH!!!!!! Coach Purses are MY ABSOLUTE FAV!!!! I LOVE the Signature C Design While YES I still LOVE the Leather Ones I Still LOVE showing off YES I do have a Coach Bag…. See the C’s!!!!! Coach PLEASE dont close the NC stores!!!!

  • tammy

    Coach used to be a sign of class and elegance back in the late 70’s and 80’s . when you bought a leather coach you always conditioned it and felt good carrying one. Now you see them everywhere, the quality went down . the plastic look and over done logo made them look cheap. I haven’t bought one in years because of their mass production and I’m glad to hear they’re trying to drag themselves back up.

  • Edith

    The truth is, Coach is not as high quality as they like to believe. I bought a purse and within a year, the straps had begun to crack. After that, think I want to buy another one, let alone pay MORE for it? Sounds like they have their heads in their own rears.

  • Scooter

    I purchased 4 hand bags in 2014 and I love all of them. 2015 is another story. Crazy little X men characters, whats up with that. Would a 40-60 yr old woman carry a bag with that character on it??? there is not one handbag I would even consider purchasing. I walk by the local coach store In my town and the only people there are the sales persons. They are way off mark. Also no promotion invitations any more except for twice a year clearance sales. Very sad. I am now leaning toward michael kore and dooney bourse-they have come a long way

  • JohnnaCal

    As income inequality widens…how many high end bags can all the top designers sell? Coach cannot overcome the loss of the middle class in America. They will have to pitch to asia but it will take a few years to get where they want. Are investors willing to wait?

    Coach was king when there are not as many designers in the game.

  • coachgoneby

    I have a Madison clutch in butter yellow. I bought it from the NYC flagship 20 years ago for $250 (full price). Its better than any LV I see today. I still use it.

    The leather lable inside is stamped “made in Italy”. Sadly those days are long gone. I think brands are thinking backwards basing the brand on a price point.

  • Tracy N Bobby Guzman

    I am a Coach lover but a thrifty shopper and I for one would hate to see the signature logo’s go out the door as they are so loved by your lower and middle class buyers. For Coach to want to sell luxury bags at a higher price point is understandable even to me. I have bought many bags from Coach but will not spend over 200 for one. I will wait and get the full retail bag at pre-loved prices. Yet I have wondered why they do not have specialty higher end bags that are not in there retail stores but maybe cater to more elite customer.

  • Rice

    I work for Coach outlet in Calif.The outlet bags are made specifically for the outlets. The full price bags are also sold there. We do not know what full price sends us until it arrives. They cost more than outlet and have a few more hardware, leather, better quality in most cases.It could be from other store,overflow and returns. I know most employees get first picks. We have porters that come in for items. They try to buy large quantities and put it on eBay (or ) like and post it for a lot of money. Some that are fake! Buyer beware! Coach full price and outlets are trying to merge imo. We don’t have coupons but have the same when they are buying. Know your bag. Coach outlet online is only available with a code.

  • Debra

    I didn’t know what was going on, until now. In my opinion the design and attention to detail that Coach has been so well know for is suffering. They need to focus on quality instead of trendy bling. The quality of the leather in the boutique stores isn’t what it used to be, and it’s hard to even find leather in the outlet stores. The design is seriously lacking too. I have been a Coach customer for around 30 years. This year, I have been very disappointed with the options, and promised myself, sadly, that I would stop shopping Coach. I can tell that the design team has changed recently. I’m afraid the changes are going to hurt Coach even further. It is obvious that Coach is sacrificing quality to save a buck — not a good idea for a luxury retailer.

  • mathew

    can we make business together in one love, i thinking to go china for search things i can buys and sells in south Africa were am leave, if it is possible let me know thanks, Mr matthew

  • jnell

    See that’s why I tell folk’s that they were a cheaper version of designer bags when they first came to the market I never bought now one was bought for me.So to say this maybe it just me. But I believe they are a affordable line of designer bags. Invested by Hermes Birkins. The silent partner. But anyway I’m a high end bag girl I like my LV ,Channel , Givenchy now I’m liking Marc Jacobs.

  • Truth

    Coach quality is not the same. The bags look inexpensive and the leather has changed drastically. The styles are not what Coach used to be. Coach bags used to look classy and rich. Now they look like they came from a cheap store, light weight to a fault, so light it feels cheap and looks cheap.

  • Purseonality

    “The Coach bags aren’t leather any more”
    It’s just junk