Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How Coach Influenced Half a Century of Fashion (And Counting)

No one would have guessed that a purse based on a baseball glove could look so good. But Miles Cahn, one of Coach’s founders, had a hunch. More than half a century and billions of dollars later, it seems that Cahn had the right idea.

Coach is one most renowned fashion houses in the U.S. today for one simple reason: It taught us the importance of classics and craftsmanship. Although the brand has evolved throughout the years, embracing the logo craze of the 2000s and adding color to its line, it has remained faithful to classic shapes and styles. By doing this, it has influenced other fashion houses to always keep a classic spirit in their collections.

At Shoppingberg, we love Coach and the commitment to classic beauty it represents, which is why we chose to feature the Coach brand in our first designer profile. These profiles are meant to teach you more about the brands we feature and give you an idea of about why we carry their products in our store. The short answer is this: We believe craftsmanship and high quality materials will give you a more beautiful and longer lasting product that will stay in your closet for years.

From a Baseball Glove to a Handbag

The brand started in New York in the 1940s as a small manufacturer of leather goods, including wallets and billfolds. In 1946, Miles Cahn, now considered one of Coach’s founders, joined the company and eventually took it over. He had his eureka moment in the 1960s when he noticed that the leather in baseball gloves became soft and flexible with use.

His wife Lillian had the idea to add handbags to the company’s repertoire (because women are the geniuses behind all great ideas, of course) and thus the Coach as we know it was born. The company started out producing 12 exquisitely made tan leather handbags that were noticeably different than others on the market at the time. Instead of cardboard bags stapled with leather, Coach bags were made entirely of leather. They also featured impeccable stitching, like what you would find in a baseball glove.

The Classic Handbags We Know Today

In the late 1960s, Coach started to experiment and developed some of the classic purses that have ridden the trend waves throughout the years, such as the structured bucket bag and the fringe bag. Part of this was due to the hiring of Bonnie Cashin, a designer who was considered a pioneer in American sportswear for her use of leather, wool and jersey in her designs. 

Among other things, Cashin developed the signature brass hardware used on Coach handbags and duffle bags.

The 1970s saw Coach gradually experimenting with color, many of which we still see on designer palettes today. These colors included leather in navy, purple, green and pink. The company also experimented with design, releasing clutches with fringe trim. Throughout all this experimentation, Coach continued to produce its classic line, including the tan leather Duffle Sac bag.

Coach Through the Ages

The 1970s and ‘80s not only saw the rise and fall of hippie culture; it also saw a change for Coach. The Cashins sold the company to the Sara Lee Corporation and Lew Frankfort came in as CEO. Under Frankfort’s tenure, Coach expanded rapidly, seeking to increase the repertoire of products that bore the Coach name. It also diversified its target audience, for instance, making lighter leather goods for women who lived in the south.

Frankfort also introduced the concept of affordable luxury, which is one of the cornerstones of the Coach brand today. This concept targeted people who wanted luxury and high-quality items but did not want to pay outrageous prices.

Finally, Frankfort created Coach’s modern logo, presiding over the unveiling of the Coach double C design.

The Modern Coach

Coach has left a mighty big footprint in the fashion world, and signs show it’s only growing in might. One of the main reasons Coach has been so successful is that it introduces a design, makes people fall in love with it, and then re-releases the design every few years, often with a new twist.

These designs last, and they make women feel beautiful. The lesson here: It pays to stick to your roots and to respect the classics.

For those of you who are Coach junkies or for those interested in exploring Coach, here are some of our classic Coach picks perfect for any decade:

The Mini Ruby Crossbody is very similar to the 1970s Penny Classic and the penny candy-colored crossbodies that flooded Coach’s collections. Perfect to add a bit of class to any outfit and to move efficiently if you’re running around.

The Cora Domed Satchel is an homage to the ‘90s and is very similar to the Winnie Top Handle bag, which was released in the classic black and nude leather. This bag is perfect to add a bit of personality to an outfit and is easy to carry around.

Shop our entire Coach collection today and carry a piece of history with you—for less!

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