Wednesday 28th October 2020
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Coach bags un-cheese themselves

Be still my heart

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.


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Posted on May 2nd, 2012 11 Comments

11 Responses

  1. Jennifer says:

    Speaking of 90s accessories that lost their way (if they ever had it) and may be ripe for a backlash-to-the-backlash revival: Kate Spade?

    • Stacey says:

      Exactly what I was thinking! The striped bag looks exactly like something you’d see at Kate Spade!

  2. Dana says:

    Perhaps because I live in the mid-west, I see a lot of Kate Spade bags being carried by well dressed, everyday ladies that would not be seen dead carrying one of those Coach logo bags.

  3. Rae Rae says:

    I feel the same way about Coach as well as logos. Well said.

  4. EVE says:


  5. Maggie says:

    I heard that bucket bag is coming out in bright blue for summer. Rrrowr.

  6. Maryse says:

    Love love the coach reissues.

  7. Leigh says:

    While I love that understated stewardess bag, the vast majority of Coach bags you see are those awful logo ones. I live in a Houston suburb and every Saturday morning at the grocery store I play a silent game of “Count the Coaches.” My record is 32.

  8. Jacqueline says:

    First, I love that when you say Metro North to Darien, an actual image of the frumpies riding that train is conjured.

    Second, I blame the ubiquitous of Coach these days on Reed Krakoff. Man did a fabulous job revamping things over there.

    Like commenter leigh, I like the understated stewardess, but refuse to purchase, because for every one bag I buy, money goes into the pockets of fashion people who hawk logo-heavy bags to upper middle class suburbanites. Booooooooo.

  9. Connie says:

    But all these bags are ugly and frankly, way too old-fashioned.

  10. Karen says:

    I actually still have 2 coach bags from the mid 1990s in a box somewhere in the garage that look pretty similar to the first two photos above. I guess I’ve been saving them in case they ever look retro cool and given that they are somewhat sentimental because I bought them for myself with my very first (tiny) pay raise. But I’m with Connie…at least so far.