A few years ago, Coach—a New York City-established design house of modern luxury accessories and lifestyle collection—was very visible in the Philippine market, with branches in major shopping malls such as Glorietta and Rockwell Powerplant. These boutiques suddenly closed down without warning a few years ago, leaving its patrons to resort to overseas purchases.
Almost a decade later, Coach has officially returned to the country after what the mother company calls “a brand incarnation.” With a new store inside Rustan’s Shangri-La Plaza, the popular design house showcases selected women’s bags, accessories and small leather goods helmed by Coach’s new creative director, Stuart Vevers.
On its opening, the brand’s South East Asia and Oceania President and CEO Andrew Stanleick flew in to the capital to talk to select media about this latest development.
Explaining what drove Coach to reopen here, Stanleick cited three elements: “First, we had the perfect opportunity to do so because 18 months ago we started our brand transformation, bringing in Stuart Vevers who has a tremendous pedigree when it comes to traditional luxury brands, accessories and ready to wear items.
“The second element is transforming our stores with a more elevated look and feel, which was inspired by the fashion forward designs and New York aesthetics.
“Lastly, the third element is the new and edgier advertising shot by Steven Meisel, which all together, made this the perfect time to come back to the Philippines.”
Besides citing these movements as the basis in reviving a physical store in the country, Stanleick also mentioned that their headquarters is very much aware of the Filipino’s patronage for Coach.
“Many Filipinos already love to buy Coach whenever they are travelling overseas, and perhaps still have the old Coach in mind. So I think now is the time to tell the story about the new Coach—about the brand transformation and at the same time attribute the success of the brand with the 75-year craftsmanship and heritage.”
“In the last 20 years, we created a segment which we called ‘accessible luxury.’ We did very well with that because there was a big price difference between very expensive traditional European brands and Coach. We became really more accessible that competitors saw this and in essence, copy pasted our playbook,” Stanleick recalled again of the “old Coach.”
“Eighteen months ago was a reflection point. It was a good moment to reinvent our-self again, so we took in a new designer, we completely renovated the stores, and we brought new advertising arm. It was the right thing to do and we now call it ‘modern luxury’.”
According to the top executive, the “new Coach” is about offering superior quality products that are hand-made from the best leathers, as interpreted by new lead designer Stuart.
As such, their bags are very much suited to the upbeat Manila urban scene of today.
The Turnlock Tie Rucksack is sure to be a hit among hippies who want the reliability of back packs and the durability of leather. The Rhydel Satchel with its minimalistic and no-nonsense design match every on-the-go young professionals’ needs. And the Swagger with its color blockings are definitely suited for the “It Girls.”
Another charm to its design department is Coach’s abandonment of the screaming signature logo and adoption of a very minimal monogram.
“A few years ago it was very much a signature logo but we were ahead of that trend, and now, we see more and more that what consumers just want from Coach is just to see and feel the leather,” Stanleick explained.
Finally, the brand is positioning itself as luxurious yet affordable as it has successfully done in the past.
“The leather is really, really high quality but very affordable in price. And so, we now appeal to a wide range of people—we’ve got products for consumers who are buying their first bag; and consumers who traditionally bought traditional luxury brands with a tag of ridiculous prices who are now wiser,” Stan-leick ticked off.
And so, in the process of the brand’s reincarnation, they have kept the best elements of the old and infused them with modernity, effectively giving rise to a new generation of luxury leather lovers.
Their story now continues in the Philippines, and hopes are high in New York, that it will also have a happily ever after.
Coach is exclusively distributed in the country by Stores Specialists, Inc.