Coach and Carry

Next June, Coach opens in Paris, a corner at Le Printemps’ new accessory department. I thought Coach had been there forever! Not true. It is their first official launch in Europe. Other countries will follow including Spain, Portugal and England. Living in the United States, the famous CC letters – not entangled but facing each other or lying side by side evoking the wheel of the barouche – seem as internationally  well-known as … some other twosome . After the US and  Asia, Europe is for Coach the new promised land. Une fois n’est pas coutume. Prior to interviewing Ian Bickley, President of Coach International, for Fashion Daily News, I did my background search touring the stores. I know!I know but -look!- it’s part of the job…

I was quite amazed at how the new collections are diverse. What  was a rather conservative look evolved into the most creative catalog. The collection “Poppy” with its tangy prints inspired by the 60’s in the spirit of  Mary Quant or Emilio Pucci invade the shelves. Bags with  flower graffiti or  psychedelic drawings cohabit with the last models of the collection “Julia”, wiser bags cut in tender lilac or tonic yellow lemon leathers with engraved monograms.

In all the stores, a range of small leather items, glasses, scarves occupy large roundtables. In showcases, collections of  fantasy jewelry help create this total universe by Coach. The creativity of Artistic Director Reed Krakoff is palpable. I shared  my thoughts with Ian Binkley. ” Funny you would they that! In our most recent consumer focus groups in France, one of the things consumers liked was Coach offering, and especially the colors.” Although I live in New York, I must still be a European consumer at heart! In fact Coach has worked hard on innovation developing the three magic F: Fun, Feminine, Fashion. With 6 to 8 collections a year, Coach is able to show new products in the stores every month.

A long way gone from the beginnings when Miles Cahn, better worker in this family business founded in 1941, started  softening the  leather of  baseball gloves,  working the leather differently to turn it into consumer leather products.  Coach is an inspiring example of reinvention.

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