Why Everyone Wants a Vintage Coach Bag

Why Everyone Wants a Vintage Coach Bag
Courtesy of Coach

Get ready to be impressed. Iconic American luxury leather goods brand Coach has just unveiled its largest store in the world. At three stories high with an area of 20,000 square feet, it sits on the corner of 54th Street and 5th Avenue in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. It's especially significant given that this year also marks its 75th anniversary, a milestone that highlights how much the brand has evolved since its days as a modest family-run workshop in N.Y.C. (Coach is also partnering up Step Up, nonprofit organization to help girls fulfill their potential.)

From the outside, the Coach House looks like any other giant brick-and-mortar retailer, but the shopping experience is completely unlike anything else. For starters, the first thing that greets you is a 12-foot dinosaur sculpture (lovingly named Rexy; she's a girl btw) crafted from more than 400 Coach leather handbags, a masterpiece by Billie Achilleos that took her roughly three months to make. "It’s the biggest thing I made, and the best we’ve made," she tells us at the preview this morning. "The amount of time, effort, and attention to detail that’s gone into making her well exceeds the anything I've done before."

And Rexy is creative director Stuart Vevers's favorite thing about the store. And the conveyor belt that decorates the entrance. And the windows. Basically, everything. "It was all about the idea of the authentic New York spirit, honest materials, and a warm friendly approach to luxury with moments of playfulness," Vevers tells us on this joint design collaboration with architect Bill Sofield. "It was about creativity, surprising people, really challenging people’s prerceptions of Coach and taking things to the next level."

There's also a "Made to Order Rogue" bar on the third floor, which allows customers to customize a bespoke Rogue bag through different fabrications and applique treatments (there's something like one million possible combos). A "Coach House Workshop" sits on the second floor, complete with a resident master craftsman, who can customize just about anything, including exclusive vintage projects.

And speaking of vintage: The store features a display wall of rare vintage Coach bags from the brand's archives (not for sale, sorry) that serves as a timeline of the most iconic silhouettes and when they were released. There's the skinny tote from 1968, the slim satchel from 1974, the hasp bag from 1973, the patch pocket from 1969, the courier pouch from 1972, and so on—many of them from Bonnie Cashin's tenure at Coach in the '60s and '70s. 

"I often say, Bonnie's a guardian angel of Coach, because so many of the things she created when she was at Coach are the things we know and love for Coach today," Vevers says. "Vintage Coach bags are definitely becoming more of a collectible item—the value is increasing, they're becoming rarer." And when asked why that's happening, Vevers paused, before saying: "First, I think it's the real, natural glove tanned leather that feels very right. And there's something about a bag that still looks so great 30, 40, 50 years later—that it's going to be around for a long time."

Scroll through to see photos from the store and a selection of Coach's reimagined vintage bags.

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