Coach, Inc. is an multinational luxury fashion company based in New York City. The company is known for accessories and gifts for women and men, including handbags, men's bags, women's and men's small leather goods, footwear, fragrance, jewelry, outerwear, ready-to-wear, scarves, sunwear, travel accessories, and watches.
Coach was founded in 1941, as a family-run workshop in a loft on 34th Street in Manhattan, with six leatherworkers who made wallets and billfolds by hand.
1946: Miles & Lillian Cahn join Coach
In 1946, Miles Cahn and his wife Lillian joined the company. Miles and Lillian Cahn were owners of a leather handbag manufacturing business, and were knowledgeable about leatherworks and business.
By 1950, Cahn had taken over the business. During the early years, Cahn noticed the distinctive properties and qualities of the leather used to make baseball gloves. With wear and use, the leather in a glove became softer and suppler. Attempting to mimic this process, Cahn created a way of processing the leather to make it stronger, softer, and more flexible. Since the leather absorbed dye very well, this process also created a richer, deeper color in the leather. Soon after Cahn developed this new process, Lillian Cahn suggested to Miles that the company supplement the factory's men's accessories business by adding women's leather handbags. The "sturdy cowhide bags were an immediate hit."
Miles and Lillian Cahn bought the company through a leveraged buyout in 1961.
1961¨C1974: Bonnie Cashin designs for Coach
In 1961, Cahn hired Bonnie Cashin, a sportswear pioneer, to design handbags for Coach. Cashin "revolutionized the product's design," working as creative head for Coach from 1962 through 1974.
Cashin instituted the inclusion of side pockets, coin purses, and brighter colors (as opposed to the usual hues of browns and tans) in the products. Cashin also designed matching shoes, pens, key fobs, and eyewear, and added hardware to both her clothes and accessories¨Cparticularly the silver toggle that became the Coach hallmark¨Cdeclaring that she had been inspired by a memory of quickly fastening the top on her convertible sports car.
1979: Lewis Frankfort Joins Coach
In 1979, Lewis Frankfort joined the company as vice-president of business development. During this time, Coach was making $6 million in sales and products were being distributed through the domestic wholesale channel, primarily in the northeastern United States. He was mentored by the then Executive VP of Sales Richard Rose. Richard joined Coach in 1965, and he is credited with making Coach a household name after putting the product in department stores across the United States and abroad. He retired from his position in the company in 1995.
In 1981, under Frankfort's leadership, the company opened its first directly-operated retail location on Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
1985: Sale to Sara Lee
In 1985, the Cahns decided to sell Coach Leatherware after determining they wanted to "devote more time to their growing goat farm and cheese production business called Coach Farm in Gallatinville, New York, which they began in 1983". Coach was then sold to Sara Lee Corporation for a reported $30 million. Lew Frankfort succeeded Cahn as president.
Sara Lee structured Coach under its Hanes Group. In early 1986, new boutiques were opened in Macy's stores in New York City and San Francisco. Additional Coach stores were under construction, and similar boutiques were to be opened in other major department stores later that year. By November 1986, the company was operating 12 stores, along with nearly 50 boutiques within larger department stores.
1996: Reed Krakoff leads design
In 1996, Lew Frankfort was named Chairman and CEO of Coach. The following year, under Frankfort's leadership, Coach hired Reed Krakoff, whose creative and commercials instincts aimed to make Coach products functional, lightweight, and stylish. Krakoff's design transformed Coach from the relatively small company that it was in 1985 into the worldwide known brand that it is today.
2013¨Cpresent: Leadership changes and store closures
In February 2013, Coach named Victor Luis president and chief commercial officer and announced that he would become chief executive officer in January 2014, with Lew Frankfort continuing as executive chairman. In 2013, Coach generated $5 billion in sales and operated approximately 1,000 directly operated locations globally, including North America, Japan, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Korea, and Europe.
In 2014, the company announced Stuart Vevers as the new Executive Creative Director, replacing Reed Krakoff.
During 2014, Coach also announced that Lew Frankfort would retire as Executive Chairman at the expiration of his term in November 2014.
In January 2015, Coach agreed to buy shoemaker, Stuart Weitzman, for up to $574 million in cash. In the same year, Coach also launched Coach 1941, "a new, higher-priced line centered on ready-to-wear."
2016 marks the 75th anniversary of Coach.