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Coach: The Comeback No One Saw Coming

When you think of the brand Coach, it’s easy to think of a middle–aged woman sporting a black or brown leather bag with the gold “Coach” label. Or, maybe you picture the classic canvas bag with the “C” monogram. However, no one could have predicted Coach’s response to that association, or how the brand would repopularize itself with Gen Z.

The brand, once associated with an older female demographic, has now made a comeback targeting the younger generation. A prime example of this are the “Pillow Bags,” a style of bag that’s now everywhere (sometimes taking on other names, such as the “cloud bag”). 

Coach’s pillow bags come in four colors. Sticking with the classics, Coach offers tan and black, providing a safe bet for older customers who nevertheless want to keep up with the brand’s forward–looking evolution. However, Coach also ventures out of the box with pink and green versions of the bag. These bright colors are just in time for spring and offer something more youthful for a younger demographic. 

Hopping on other trends, Coach also brought back 90’s inspired minis with their “swinger bag,” coming in many different patterns and prints. Both the pillow and the swinger styles are shoulder bags, notably associated with younger adults since their small sizes make them more of an accessory. 

This style is everywhere; Coach is not the only brand to bring back 90’s designs as Prada also saw massive success when they brought back their mini nylon bags

A large part of Coach’s resurgence is also in part due to their marketing efforts. To get the word out to younger crowds, Coach is turning to new strategies, such as having strong portfolio brand ambassadors. 

For customers in the older range, they’ve enlisted celebrities like Jennifer Lopez to represent their brand. Conversely, to appeal to younger crowds, Coach turned to Megan Thee Stallion, who’s currently at the top of the music charts and very popular among Gen Z. Other notable ambassadors include Kaia Gerber and Cole Sprouse

The brand also recognizes the importance of having internet influencers on their campaign to reach a wider audience. Coach’s Instagram features popular influencer Rickey Thompson with their newest bags. They’ve also collaborated with Michael B. Jordan, who’s the perfect bridge between Millennials and Gen Z.

Thompson and Jordan are not the only male ambassadors, as Jeremy Lin is also in Coach’s new ad campaign. By including men, the brand emphasizes the narrative that it’s for everybody, regardless of age or gender. 

Another reason the brand is succeeding is that it’s still keeping up with its original styles. Even as they expand their audience, Coach still has the classics. They’re not trying to change their entire brand: they’re expanding it and monitoring trends to keep up and remain relevant. In fact, their website has a section dedicated to their older styles, or the “originals.” 

Coach did a complete 180 with their brand. At its core, the brand’s success is due to its ability to embrace change. Instead of sticking with their usual clientele, they stepped out of their comfort zone to capture a wider audience. 

Coach’s comeback can serve as a lesson to other brands. Perhaps we’ll even see Kate Spade or Tory Burch taking a page out of Coach’s book by reviving their designs and marketing strategies. In the meantime, we can expect to see a whole lot more of that signature “C” everywhere.

Jada Gritton

U Penn '24

Jada Gritton is studying PPE with an intended minor in Gender Studies. She enjoys reading, cooking, and listening to music and is excited to join the HerCampus team.
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