Coach or Cliche?
It was the holiday shopping season in 2004 and I fell in love with the most beautiful patchwork Coach tote. My mom wanted me to have the bag because it was so '"me."
We saved the money and I was very proud to carry that bag. It felt like I was walking around with a new baby, you know the feeling? I retired the bag after a short while because I saw a lot of people with my very same bag, it was everywhere. Why? Fast forward to today, that patchwork bag exploded all over the place. I would even spot "knock-offs", which is reassurance that everyone would own my tote or similar. I felt myself getting sick over Coach and hated looking at the 'Cs' all over the bag . Did people even know what those 'Cs' meant? When Guess came out with a similar version and put 'Gs' all over would they notice the difference? How did this trend get so out of control and did people know what they were really buying?
That patchwork bag taught me so many lessons. However, I think the most important one was when I reached in the bag and noticed the little white card that says COACH on the inside. When you read the card it states that it is a certified Coach leather handbag and made out of real glove tanned cowhide. At first I didn't really know what that meant but my inquisitive nature would soon found out.
That little card also stated that it got its start from designing baseball gloves.
Coach really grabbed my threads by imagining a perfectly soft baseball glove. If you have put your hand in a 'broken-in' baseball glove, you know how amazing that leather feels. Soft, supple, and sturdy.
This is the process Coach leathermakers use to design their handbags. So, this of course inspired me to tell you the story behind Coach handbags.
Coach was founded in 1941 in Manhattan New York in a loft on 34th street. The structure of the company included six leatherworkers who made wallets and billfolds by hand. In 1946, a man named Miles Cahn and his wife Lilian joined Coach. The Cahns were owners of a leather handbag manufacturer and well versed in leatherworks owning a business.
By 1950, Cahn took over the business. He was intrigued by the distinctive properties and qualities used to make baseball gloves, tanning the leather was something he perfected. Imagine the process of "breaking-in" a baseball glove which makes it much easier to catch a ball in the glove. If you don't 'break-in' the glove the ball slips right out. With wear and use, the leather glove becames softer and less stiff. Cahn began to mimic this process to create a way of processing the Coach leather. This process made the leather stonger, softer, and more flexible. This also resulted in a deeper-toned color because of the leather absorbing the dye from Cahn's process. Lilian and Miles Pioneered this process and soon added women's leather handbags, which was Lilian's idea. The Cahn's took on full ownership in 1961, which layed the foundation for the quality leather craftsmanship we see in stores today.
The moment I read that insert in my bag, I felt terrible. Terrible that I didn't appreciate what Coach stood for and recognizing it's quality. It had become so mainstream that I forgot about its great meaning. Coach fittingly got its start in sports and was born from everlasting leather. I whisked it away because everyone else had one. From that moment on, I vowed to learn what each designer had to offer besides what is scribbled on the outside. Quality, history, and great structure are the foundation of everything. Take a moment to appreciate the great work that is put into what we use every day, patchwork and all.