Snob Essentials

Coach – Pass on Bags But I’ll Take the Stocks


I recently spoke to an investor who was interested in buying Coach stock. After extensive research, he found that Bag Snob was the only source denouncing the virtues of the Coach brand so he wanted to ask me why. The first thing I said was that I had nothing but admiration for their business operations and genius marketing efforts that garnered them an impressive 23% market share of the entire bag business. Trust me, if I could own the company, I would.

Their success is based on their ability to sell the concept of luxury at affordable price points. People who buy Coach really feel they are buying high-end luxury. Lovers are proud to advertise for Coach with the giant C insignia canvas bags. To be fair, their quality is pretty amazing for the price and their styles are practical. All this tells my investor to buy buy buy. The stock that is, because that is the only thing I’ll buy from Coach. I just don’t want a bag that literally everyone and their mothers (and grandmothers) carry. But that is why the stock is a good investment. In this economic climate, Coach is still going strong. Their outlet stores are doing business like you would not believe. It is a huge part of their business.

People want good, reliable bags with name recognition that is very reasonably priced. As an exercise, I went through their store and found a couple of bags that are not bad. The carryall from the Hampton collectionicon in Summer straw and flower applique is cute, the center divider is also a frame pouch and there is slit pocket in back – all in all a very practical bag for only $358. The Parker in nickle metallicicon> is a total Prada knockoff but $398 for a leather bag is a really great buy. But then again, when the sales start, you can get a Miu Miu or Marc by Marc Jacobs for around the same price for a not so mediocre bag.


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  1. to be fair, their bags are quite pretty. I just don’t like the fact that everyone is wearing one while I walk down the street.

    Same for Gucci and Fendi canvas and LV

  2. I ditto Joanna, as logo-esque bags all share the same clout — to be seen and not appreciated.

    Funny as you mentioned their outlet stores business. I just read yesterday, how it’s a main part of their business strategy, as it brings in the bucks for the company. I am curious as to if they produce factory quality products (not Coach retail), as other stores such as Gap, BR, Ann Taylor. I popped by one to see their bags, and they did feel different in terms of leather and style. Too bored to look at details.

    Back to drooling over Tod’s…

  3. I live in TX, and I think we have one of the biggest outlets in San Marcos. It’s too crazy to even walk in the Coach factory store..everyone always has about 20 bags on their arms!! It’s so absurd. Don’t get me wrong, I have 1 leather coach bag that I absolutely love b/c it’s so roomy..but it’s getting way too “common.”

  4. I agree! It seems elitist to only call out Coach. The canvas Gucci logo is just as prevalent. Whether fake or real, I see it everywhere.

  5. Coach in HK is very expensive, absurdly expensive.

    So, say you are me, you walk by Coach and any canvas bag is costing around $500USD, then you walk a few windows down and Kooba leather bags are around the same price… much cuter, much more fuchtional, and leather.

    You go, Hmmmmmmmmm and you never walk into Coach again.

  6. Tina, I agree with you in part. I hate the fact that EVERYONE and their mom has one and I hate that played out canvas. Lame. Like you Coach is not my fist stop for purse choices. However, I don’t poo poo the brand because I like the fact that they will stand by their product and repair purses even if they are from several seasons ago, which is more than I can say from some other higher priced labels. Whenever I’m in need of a wristlet or clutch and don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for it, I will check out coach to see what they’re offering because I do feel that their workmanship is reliable.

  7. In Hong Kong, Coach is definitely on the pricey side, and I see way too many people (think middle-aged moms, shoddily dressed schoolgirls and whatnot) with LVs and Guccis. Can’t see why Coach is any lesser than LV and Gucci except in terms of the prestige we associate with it. Plus, I think a lot of their non-logo bags are cute, and very wearable.

  8. While the coach logo bags do make me shudder a little bit (although I have a few from when they first came out and will say that they are VERY durable), I think they make nice quality leather bags for the times when you want a ‘throw around bag’-like, something you can load up with schoolbooks and a laptop (who wants to spend thousands on a bag that will be ruined in a year?)…I also LOVE their shoes and other leather goods (nice shoes for 200 and under, and beautiful gloves). I wouldn’t hesitate to buy non-bag products from coach as long as they weren’t in the logo fabric (as logo fabric is hideous on shoes).

  9. I love the history of Coach bags.I know they were made in NYC by real leather craftsmen for a long time. but I think they are no longer made in the states .Designer Bonnie Cashin was involved with the company. It used to be all about the style and leather.

  10. I actually have to laugh, I started buying Coach stock last year when I went to their outlet and noticed people running around and carrying around armloads of their bags to the register. It’ll never make me rich, but I like owning stock of companies that I actually can understand….the purses aren’t too shabby, get everyday, knock around bags when I’m too nervous to take my Oscars, Tods, etc out in bag weather.

  11. to be honest I’ve never really seen a Coach bag I’ve really liked. I’ve always preferred Kate Spade for that price point. Plus it seemed like every girl in my HS had a Coach bag, so they weren’t really special.

  12. I do have both leather and signature print Coach bags. I just get what I want, common or not. You like what you like, after all.

    I do understand why some Bag Snobs hate Coach. There are a LOT of signature print bags and fakes are everywhere. I also am uneasy about how quickly items move from boutique to outlet. Still, there are many good quality Coach bags and I hope those of you that hate Coach take a second look. You might enjoy what you see.

    Take care!

  13. I do have a couple old school leather Coach bags from more than 10 years ago, and I have to say that those babies stand the wear and tear of time. They look as nice, if not better, than when I first bought them. My favorite wallet is a Coach mini leather wallet I bought 14 years ago, and it STILL looks great and wears well. This, after all the Prada, LV, and YSL wallets that have crossed my path.

    I find it sad for the brand that they went to that horrid canvas logo. I feel it cheapened the brand. I haven’t set foot in a Coach store in years, but I will use my classic leather City bag when I need a straightforward, understated bag with a suit.

    I actually checked my investment website, and the Coach company is getting mixed reviews from the experts. Although, maybe we’re more the experts on bags than a bunch of men in suits!

  14. I agree with another poster commending Coach for standing behind their products for repair. My husband had a Coach briefcase for, I sear, a good 15 years. You should have seen that beat up thing (he loved i). He carried it for so long, the seams of the leather edging was coming off, so leather edging pieces dangling here and there around the and the brass pieces that held the leather strap to the bag, as well as the brass rings on the bag were wearing thin. Now THAT’S bag abuse!

    Last year he sent it back for repair and it came back with leather conditioned (couldn’t do much to pretty that one up). all the seams stitched back on and brass replaced. FOR FREE! After 15 YEARS!

    He’d still have it if someone hadn’t broken into his car and stolen it (with his laptop inside). I swear, he he was more upset about the bag than the computer.

    He never ever leaves his bag in the car, except this one time, in the trunk, to go to lunch with a friend who said, “Oh just put it in the trunk.” Yeah, right.

  15. A bit different viewpoint: I am investor and would not choose Coach (COH) since the retail sector is going





    ….and will be for the foreseeable future. What, with California at 11.2 percent unemployment? And a nationwide reported unemployment of over 8 percent? And those are the “Official” statistics. Real unemployment is probably around 15 percent nationwide and in some areas of California, Michigan, and Florida, its really more like 25 percent.

    So, your source is going to suggest buying Coach in this enviro? ….lol….Coach appeals to the low-to-middle income demographic that is being hit by layoffs. Everywhere I’m looking shows big drops in sales and store closures for COH.

    Here’s one article of several on MarketWatch:{CAA9F81D-5673-4168-ABCF-F36755F6631D}&dist=TQP_Mod_mktwN

    Now, I am aware that traders tend to “up-talk” certain companies and their stocks through innuendo and using media hacks as their mouthpieces for spreading rumors and false info to get investors (such as myself) to buy.

    In this Market? Not a chance. Many of us are aware that hedge funds and other fund managers are rotating in and out of sectors to increase profits, particularly near the end of a quarter to up their commissions and bonuses.

    A lot of trading on today’s highly manipulated market is being done by math grads using computer programs.

  16. I find the signature canvas and C’s to be typical and oh so common. (the worst are the easy to tell) Anyway, I refuse to buy Coach…I find the bags hideous…so much so, that I’d rather buy an out of season bag off of Ebay than pay a couple hundred USD for a bag that everyone and their best friends have. And the Coach sneakers? Gag. There’s only SO MUCH you can do with the Letter C.

  17. can’t say I’m much of a fan of Coach myself, i like things that are original and a little quirky, doesn’t have to be the most expensive item on the market, just something that strikes a chord with me 🙂

  18. you nailed it. nailed it. the Coach devotees LOVE those bags. I’ve been out of the Coach market for years, and am appalled at their propensity for creating knockoffs. But it’s undeniable that there’s a tendency for people to “backslide” on luxury when their stock fund plummets. Intriguing post.

  19. this was such a spot-on post that I linked to it today in my own take on coach. you are certainly not alone in you dislike (and disbelief) of the brand. I’ll fill my portfolio with the stocks, but not my closet with the goods.

  20. The one thing I will say is that while Coach devotees do feel as though they own a “luxury” bag, most are still vaguely aware that “real” high-end designer bags exist — they just can’t afford them. I’m far more bothered by people out there who buy one Louis Vuitton monogram canvas bag that they use 365 days a year, no matter the occasion, and they think that owning one somehow makes them superior to everyone else in the world carrying a bag that costs less money. I guess this could technically be true for a bag by any designer, but it seems like people who don’t know anything about fashion in general recognize the Louis Vuitton monogram print and then think that it is THE only thing worth owning.

  21. yes in fact Coach and almost all major brands you find in the outlet malls manufacture a specific line just for their ‘factory store’ they also carry unpopular merchandise from retail locations and ‘return to vendor’ merchandise from department stores

  22. I love my coach bags. I have quite a collection – I started collecting in the early 80’s. I have all sorts of styles and sizes, I have over 50 coach bags. the quality of the craftmanship is exceptional and the materials used are fantastic. Granted, I do not own and probably never will own one with the C’s all over it, but I carry my leather collection with as much pride as when i carry my other bags with the C’s on them (those would be my chanels). I’m not so stuck on any brand as much as I’m stuck on quality. Coach leatherware is of good quality at a manageable price point. two very important things to consider in my selection process.

  23. Coach makes excellent quality leather bags and I still have one from about 20 years ago (a leather turnlock style). As for Coach knocking off Prada all designers borrow from one another. Coach started the turnlock years ago and now Marc Jacobs uses it like crazy and this spring Joy Gryson, who formerly worked at Coach(and Marc Jacobs for that matter), borrowed the idea as well (nothing wrong with that) 🙂

    Coach is equal in quality to any botkier, rebecca minkoff etc (speaking of the leather bags).

  24. you nailed it in your comments. well done.

    I just checked out the Coach website by the recommendation by some of the comments here. I really like the madison bag. all leather and no logos.

    I also like the classic bags. especially the city. great mothers day gift for my mom

  25. I discovered coatch bags when i went in USA for my first work travel.

    In Italy,where I live,nearly nobody knows coatch bags.

    They’re not sold here, and nearly nobody can recognize one … and it’s quite a pity because they’re nice also if I prefer Furla or Coccinelle for this price..

  26. OMG,I fall in love with these two bags for the first sight. they’re awsome! they can be carried by hands and be worn on the shoulder. The design is so unque.I love the first one more. The cute flower makes the whole bag looks more special!I like it!

  27. Regarding Whitney’s comment about people who own Coach bags being “dimly aware that “real” high end luxury bags exist”…of course we know they exist! That’s an insulting comment. We’re not blind or stupid! Just because there are 3 Coach bags in my closet means that I know nothing about couture?! Would you say the same of my Marc by Marc Jacobs bag, which cost around the same as some of the Coach bags? Of course I know the high-end fashion houses! But as anyone with sense would do, I buy what I like but also what is within my price-range. There’s nothing wrong with that, and its got a lot more dignity than buying a replica Chanel or LV bag to make other people think I’ve got thousands to spend on bags when I really don’t. And anyway, I know a lot of people who really do have the money to afford couture bags, but actually refuse to spend thousands on a bag and would rather buy Coach or a brand within the same price point. I have no problem with the idea of dropping huge bucks on couture bags, because would if I could, (and I’m determined to be able to at some point, there are MANY couture ones that I would love to own)…but I have to work within my budget, and I want quality for what I pay. Coach bags are well made, and I quite like some of the styles they’ve produced (although yes, the logo C’s have gotten very ubiquitious over the past few years. I much prefer the leather ones. And I’m not nuts about the Poppy collection.) And as for some Coach bags being made in China…just be aware that a lot of the high-end fashion houses have their bags made in China too nowadays, and only the finishing touches done in Italy or France, just so that they can put a “made in Italy/France” label in the bag and have it be technically true but keep the manufacturing costs as low as possible, while retaining their status in the eyes of the consumer. I remember reading that in the newspaper years ago, and retail sales were much higher then than they are now, so all corporations are having to budget. Besides, if a company has high standards, very good employee training, very good quality control and a reputation to uphold, then they’ll make good products that will last for a long time, no matter which country they are manufactured in.

  28. I have a couple leather Coach bags (among other brands of bags), both all-over leather (no C’s to be found on their exteriors), one vintage, one new. No, I don’t think of Coach as “high end.” I just like a good quality leather and bags that will go with just about any casual outfit. For evenings out, I use other bags (I’m definitely NOT one of those gals who thinks a Coach bag goes with everything).

    I’ve had/have some nice, and 100% authentic, high-end bags (LV, Prada, and Fendi) but have sold many of them on eBay, typically because they seem so high-end that I feel conspicuous, or I’m afraid of damaging an expensive bag–I haul a toddler around with me everywhere, so I have to be pragmatic in my choice of day bag.

    Finally, I really like their price point. My husband and I are quite frugal and saving/investing money is very important to us. Despite the fact that he and I are in our twenties, and that we’ve only been married for four years, AND I haven’t worked at all for two years (because I turned stay-at-home mom), we’ve managed to save a huge sum of money, easily enough to get us by two or more years without any additional sources of income or without having to move out of Los Angeles (e.g. if my husband lost his job).

    Spending $200 on a Coach bag instead of $1,200 on a “nice” bag means another $1,000 that goes into the bag to secure our family’s future. It’s just a much wiser decision, I feel…

  29. I wish more ppl in the US (incl our gov’t) had the same sense that “Seismic” has… If you don’t have the $$, you shouldn’t even be buying Coach — and if you do have the $$, PLEASE spend every cent you can find on bags and shoes and whatever else (taxes) to kick-start this economy.