Coach was founded in 1941 as a family-run workshop. In
a Manhattan loft, six artisans handcrafted a collection of leather goods using
skills handed down from generation to generation. Discerning consumers soon
began to seek out the quality and unique nature of Coach craftsmanship.
Now greatly expanded, Coach continues to maintain the highest standards for materials and workmanship. Coach's exceptional work force remains committed to carefully upholding the principles of quality and integrity that define the company. We attribute the prominence of the Coach brand to the unique combination of our original American attitude and design, our heritage of fine leather goods and custom fabrics, our superior product quality and durability and our commitment to customer service.
Coach's distribution strategy is multi-channel. As of
June 2015, there were over 450 Coach stores in North America, approximately 500
directly-operated locations in Asia, and over 30 in Europe. Coach also operates
e-commerce websites in the United States, Canada, Japan, and China with
informational website in approximately 20 other countries. Beyond the company's
direct retail businesses, Coach has built a strong presence globally through
Coach boutiques located within select department stores and specialty retailer
locations in North America and Europe, as well as through distributor-operated
shops in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Australia.
Business was strong throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Products were in high demand, and under a new vice president for special products, Coach started a mail-order business. They also owned specialty stores and began to sell Coach bags there. Sales increased, and soon demand was greater than the supply. Eventually, Coach would restrict sales to hand-selected vendors.
In 1979, Lewis Frankfort joined the company as vice-president of business development.He was mentored by the then executive vice president, Richard Rose. Rose is responsible for turning the Coach brand into a household name.
1985: Sale to Sara Lee
Five years later 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, at the time Coach's senior vice president, administration and retail and mail order sales, succeeded Cahn as president.
Sara Lee structured Coach under its Hanes Group. Sara Lee took over the factories, the six boutiques, and its main store on Madison Avenue in New York City. In early 1986, new boutiques were opened in Macy's stores in New York and San Francisco. Additional Coach stores were under construction in Denver and Seattle, and similar boutiques were to be opened in other major department stores later in the year. Coach also opened mall storefronts in New York, New Jersey, Texas, and California. 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, under Frankfort's leadership Coach hired Reed Krakoff, who is credited with Coach's success from 1996. Krakoff's design transformed Coach from the relatively small company that it was in 1985 into the worldwide known brand that it is today.