Back in 1999 or so, I recall walking past a Coach store in midtown and seeing an ad campaign featuring arty photos of hip and happening real people, and which seemed to signal a revamp of the brand. And I remember thinking: boy, are they looking at an uphill battle. Coach bags seemed like the ultimate in tasteful, pricey frump: the kind of thing you’d see a lot of on the Metro North to Darien.
But they pulled it off, and pretty fast, too. Coach bags got really, really good. Classic shapes, smartly updated; nice enough for work, but not without a certain degree of cool. Everyone loved Coach. Editors—the toughest crowd of all—loved Coach. Coach stores popped up everywhere. And along with them, Coach key rings, Coach hats, Coach wallets, Coach boots. And with Coach logos covering everything. Which is when I got off the ride. I can’t bear a logo. The few times I’ve worn or carried something with a logo, I’ve felt like there was a big Look What I Can Afford! sign taped to my forehead.
These days, Coach just seems cheesy. And expensive cheesy! They must be doing something right because the brand is huge, and yet it’s tough not to marvel at how far they’ve strayed from the brilliant vision that resurrected them. But last night I passed by their Bleecker Street store and saw perfection: the bag you see above, a reissue of their stewardess bag, originally created in the 70s by design legend Bonnie Cashin. The absence of egregious hardware! The super-low flap and simple buckle! And not a logo to be seen! (That Coach tag is removable.) This is what you pay $358 for.
It’s part of a collection of reissues from Coach’s archives that launched a while back, and I want and I want. Check out this one. A bit more bit more saddle-bag-like in shape, with even less hardware, and a wonder to behold.
And then also this one, which for some reason I’m convinced would be all unexpected and modern in the navy.
Tags: 70s ladies, accessories, classics, Pricey-but-I-Want