Coach bags are a well-known designer handbag brand for many women. While they’re not as expensive as some other designer bags, they can still cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to buy.
But why are Coach bags so expensive? We discuss further in this article.
What Makes Coach Bags Expensive?
Coach makes their handbags from high-grade leather and manufactures them with strict standards. They ensure Coach employees are up to their high standards, using no shortcuts throughout the manufacturing process.
Their standards are so high, in fact, that the manufacturers only accept about 90% of the leather goods during the inspection. Comparatively, this is a high rejection rate. They reject them if the color, texture, or leather grain specs don’t meet their specifications.
Once they choose the best leather, they soften it for an extended period. There are no shortcuts; Coach ensures that the softening process doesn’t affect the texture, color, or any part of the material.
After the leather is ready, Coach uses double stitching to ensure that the bags are put together more strongly than bats using the average seam stitch.
You will automatically benefit from their lifetime guarantee if you purchase a Coach bag. No matter what happens to your handbag, all you need to do is pay for a $20 shipment to the manufacturer, and they’ll repair it for you (assuming it’s repairable).
Is Coach a Luxury Brand?
Because Coach bags aren’t at the top of the high-price luxury handbag list, it’s easy to wonder whether they’re a luxury brand or not. We know that Coach produces high-quality bags and accessories in sleek, modern designs.
Since Coach has stylish bags, high-quality materials, and a long history, many look at Coach as a luxury handbag brand. On the other hand, their more affordable pricing causes others not to view Coach as an authentic luxury brand. Ultimately, it’s how each individual views the company.
History of Coach
We must go back to the beginning to understand Coach’s pricing fully. Coach began as a family business in Manhattan in 1941. Initially, they named it “Coach New York.”
At the time, there were only six leather workers who hand-crafted wallets. By 1946, husband and wife Miles and Lillian Cahn united with Coach with their business and leatherwork knowledge. The small workshop began to transform into its own brand at this time.
Fast-forward to 1962, the Cahn’s hired the first head designer, Bonnie Cashin. Cashin gained inspiration from the 60’s NYC style trends to update the color schemes and design of the bags. Coach continued to focus on improving the quality while providing for their workers and community.
Improving the Leather
As business began to boom, Miles Cahn dedicated himself to finding higher-quality leathers to make Coach products. He got the idea to use the same leather that baseball glove manufacturers used, as it was stronger yet had more flexibility and softness than the standard leather during that time.
Lillian Cahn suggested the company add women’s handbags to their collection using the same leather. Little did they know what an ingenious idea she had because Coach’s cowhide bags became an instant success.
Becoming a Household Name
It didn’t take long before the new women’s handbags garnered massive attention. In 1965, they hired Richard Rose, who ensured Coach products would be available across the United States.
The handbag brand underwent another change in 1985 when the Cahn’s sold the company to the Sara Lee Corporation. Lew Frankfort then took the position of president.
One year later, Reed Krakoff became the creative director, concentrating on producing stylish and functional luxury goods that had the best of both worlds. His ideas were successful, causing Coach to add retail stores worldwide.
Where Coach is Now
The Coach Foundation was established in 2008 and aimed to support organizations and charities that empower and educate women and children across the globe.
Not much changed through 2014 until Stuart Vevers took over the position of creative director. He had plenty of experience and was the ideal candidate to take over this massive leadership role.
Despite the company’s changes over the years, one fact has remained the same; care and commitment to their community and high standards for their products.
Qualities of Coach Bags
Several qualities make Coach bags the accessories we know and love. Let’s take a closer look at everything Coach has to offer.
Broad Price Range
If you want to purchase a Coach bag, you can spend anywhere from $150 to over $1,000. Smaller bags made from more inexpensive materials, like coated canvas, will be more affordable than their larger authentic leather options.
Compared to other brands, even the more expensive bags are at a lower cost. For example, the average Chanel bag will cost you a couple thousand on the lower price end.
Additionally, you can find Coach bags in outlets all over America and online. They also have regular sales on their primary website. Most luxury brands don’t offer discounts or sales unless they go through a retail partner like Macy’s.
Coach makes their bags using various materials, so there’s something for nearly everyone. For example, Coach offers several types of leather, including smooth leather, natural leather, pebbled leather, and Nappa leather for their bags.
No matter which leather you go with, Coach ensures that every type is high-quality with a luxurious finish. They’re also incredibly durable, so you can enjoy your handbag for years to come.
You can also find Coach bags in cotton, nylon, canvas, and suede, so there’s something for anyone who doesn’t prefer leather bags.
Coach has some of the best craftsmanship in handbags on the market. Their handbags are made by specialists in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia who craft high-quality bags that look stunning for years after purchase.
Most luxury brands use craftsmen and women near their headquarters, mainly in Europe. For example, Gucci produces their handbags in Prato, a town outside of Florence. So, Coach bag productions aren’t the same standard as other high-end bag brands.
Although Coach has grown tremendously since their founding date, they’ve always maintained its quality. Even now, every Coach bag and all accessories must undergo strict quality tests before acceptance for stocking store shelves.
As consumers, knowing the products have high-quality tests is essential. There’s nothing worse than purchasing a brand-new handbag, especially an expensive one, only for there to be a flaw.
Luckily, even if something is wrong with your bag, you can get it repaired for life with Coach’s lifetime guarantee.
Not only does Coach offer a lifetime guarantee to repair handbags, but every Coach handbag comes with lifetime cleaning. According to their website, you’ll get “Complimentary Lifetime Leather Care and Cleaning” services offered at every Coach retail store.
Regular bag cleanings help ensure your bags will hold their beauty over time. You must call the store and schedule an appointment to get a handbag cleaning. Once your appointment is set, you can drop your bag off and get a cleaning. The best part? It doesn’t cost a penny.
Coach recommends getting a cleaning session every three months for the best results. However, Coach offers cleaning products and leather moisturizers if you live far from a retail store.
Remember that the cleaner only works on some materials, so avoid using it on hair calf leather, suede, or sport calf handbags. Additionally, you can’t use the moisturizer on suede, hair calf, calfskin, or buffalo materials.
Are Coach Prices Rising?
It’s been up for debate if Coach is a genuine luxury brand due to their more affordable pricing and frequent sales and discounts. While you may think that offering deals for consumers would be a great marketing tactic, Coach received the opposite feedback.
According to an issue in Fortune in 2017, Coach underwent a two-year slump because they offered too many promotions. This confused the customers about what items they could find at standard retail stores versus the outlets. Coach’s reputation for always being on sale wound up hurting them in the long run.
Ironically, what got Coach out of the slump was upping their prices. In the late 2010s, their higher-priced handbags made up half of their sales. In 2017, their highest-selling handbag was “the Rogue,” which cost $795.
Coach noted this trend and determined their best bet for business was to focus on more expensive handbags. While you may still consider Coach an “accessible luxury,” it may not be that way for much longer.
Does Coach Have Budget-Friendly Bags?
While the price increase may have you thinking Coach bags aren’t budget-friendly anymore, there are still a few affordable options. Regardless, as of now, their highest price handbag is in the $1,000 range, whereas other luxury brands sell bags for tens of thousands for their priciest bags.
Currently, in 2023, Coach still has a sale section on their website and has some more affordable price options. So, you can still get a luxury handbag from Coach for as little as $175 for a small messenger bag.
Additionally, Coach has a “(Re)loved” section where you can purchase second hand, upcycled or vintage handbags at a lower cost.
Should I Shop At Coach Outlets?
As a customer, the Coach outlet may seem like the perfect spot to get a good deal, especially since Coach has a lot of pricey handbags. However, you must remember that the outlets may not use as high-quality materials as their official stores do.
No matter which outlet store you go to for any brand, you’ll need to remember that the products there are made to be cheaper. It’s a common misconception that you can find the same products in non-outlet and outlet stores.
However, Coach claims they produce the same high-quality products with the same leathers and fabrics as they do in their other stores. The only difference is, according to Coach, the handbags in outlets are less embellished than non-outlet bags.
So, it’s up to you if you want to give an outlet store a try. Take a look at the materials and quality before purchasing.
Are Coach Bags Worth It?
There are pros and cons when it comes to purchasing any luxury items. Luxury handbags, by nature, are meant for wealthier consumers. Despite this, hundreds of thousands of individuals are going into debt to have high-quality bags for themselves.
So, assuming you can afford a Coach bag, it’s worth it. When you buy cheaper handbags, you’ll only get a few years out of them before they lose their quality. Because Coach goes through rigorous testing and maintains high standards, you can enjoy them for years to come.
Additionally, most lower-end bags don’t offer lifetime guarantees and complimentary cleanings. So, although Coach is pricey, it may be worth it if you want a handbag that will stand the test of time.
Do Coach Bags Hold Their Value?
One benefit of most luxury items is they hold their value. Meaning if you purchase a handbag, you can sell it years later for the same price, or sometimes more, than you originally purchased it for.
The resale value depends on a few factors. Two of the most critical components are an item’s rarity and popularity. If you purchase a popular Coach bag, there’s a good chance you can sell it for close to what you paid for.
Rare items do exceptionally well in terms of re-selling. For example, if Coach states that a limited number of a specific style will be released, you may get a pretty penny years down the line if someone is seeking out that handbag.
You must also remember that Coach is a mid-range luxury brand. Other luxury handbags will likely hold their value more than a Coach bag. That said, their resale value is relatively strong for a mid-range luxury brand.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding, “why are Coach bags so expensive?”
What does Coach do with unsold bags?
For a period of time, Coach would slash any unsold bags or returned bags. While Coach released a statement declaring they would upcycle returned bags, it’s surmised that Coach continues to destroy any unsold handbags.
Is Coach a high-end bag?
Labeling a brand as luxury highly depends on pricing. Coach is an “accessible luxury” brand, meaning they sell high-quality items that cost more than average but are more affordable than other high-end brands.
Is Coach out of style?
Coach was a popular style in the mid-2000s but lost traction due to over-promotional deals. However, Coach is gaining traction and seems to be coming back in style with the latest Y2K trend.
Do celebrities still wear Coach?
Celebrities are often a good indicator of style and trends. Within the past year, several celebrities are photographed sporting Coach bags. Some of the famous Coach-enthusiasts include Miley Cyrus, Vanessa Hudgens, and Jennifer Lopez.
Why Are Coach Bags So Expensive? Closing Thoughts
Coach bags are a mid-level luxury brand that has handbags in the thousand-dollar range. So, why are Coach bags so expensive? While they may not be as expensive as other high-end brands, Coach offers high-quality and vigorously-tested products that can last for years. With their lifetime guarantee and complimentary cleaning services, many customers believe Coach bags are worth the extra cost.