Crosby croc portfolio ($1,900), Caleb desert boot ($278) and Bleecker suede courier ($398), Coach. The Forum Shops at Caesars, 702-796-1772
Rivington leather quilted tote, Coach ($498). The Forum Shops at Caesars; 702-796-1772
Coach is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, so perhaps it’s no surprise that the label’s latest news has a full-circle vibe to it. “When we started out in 1941, we were exclusively a men’s brand,” says Greg Unis, vice president of men’s merchandising for Coach. “And we remained a men’s brand for 20 years.”
For those who envision Coach as that bastion of smart handbags and accessories for women 15 to 55, it’s something of a revelation that a baseball glove, and the notion that its feel and patina get better with age, was the earliest inspiration for the then men’s-focused label. Next month, that idea once again takes center stage with the opening of a 1,457-square-foot Coach men’s store at The Forum Shops at Caesars, only the fourth of its kind in the US. “Ultimately,” Unis says, “this is really a natural fit for us, and in many ways a return to what built the brand.”
As the women’s side of Coach has blown up over the years, men’s products have taken a bit of a backseat, but no longer. The Fall collection is substantially larger than in recent seasons and features items geared toward, as Unis says, “the mobile man and new solutions for his evolving life, such as iPad cases and all the things that carry technology."
But the core of the Coach men’s collection remains rooted in bags. “That’s really our main strength,” Unis says. His favorite? The Bleecker Courier, a messenger bag in fawn-toned leather. “That’s the one I carry the most—I love the idea that it’s the same kind of leather as that used for a baseball glove.”
Men’s stores such as the Forum Shops location likewise reflect a design evolution—while Coach locations largely have been known as airy, white spaces, the men’s stores are designed with a warmer, more clubby feel. “The idea is to give men their own shopping environment, their own space.“ Unis says. “It’s not about a guy having to trek through the women’s shoe department to find what he wants.” To that end, special services also are being introduced in the men’s stores, such as an inhouse craftsman to monogram leather goods on request.
Additional men’s store openings are expected throughout the US in the coming months, while the product selection also will continue its expansion, Unis says. All of which shows that, seven decades in, a megabrand like Coach has no intention of resting on its laurels. “We’ll continue to evolve as our customer evolves,” Unis says. “That’s the fun part of this.”