COACH: Communication Strategies

Friday, December 11, 2020

 Fashion is in itself a form of communication" (Brownlees, T), therefore in the fashion industry, brands must use both tangible and intangible forms of communication. Brands, including Coach, all aim to communicate the 'dream factor' associated with fashion, as realistically the symbolic nature of a brand has a far greater influence than its functionality. Coach is a classic example of this as they have come to be associated with luxury and exclusivity. Coach is a luxury American brand with a speciality in handbags, luggage and, other leather goods, but at a more accessible price point than others in the luxury market. The Coach company was founded in 1941 as a family-run workshop in Manhattan, a site that remains their headquarters. Today, Coach has around 500 stores in North America, with a further 400 in Asia and 20 in Europe ( Coach is now part of the Tapestry group, along with Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman, however, they are responsible for 70% of the group's profits. Working within their signature styles and prints, COACH is the embodiment of the classic, American style.

This is reflected in Coach's classic horse-and-carriage logo, seen as a symbol of luxury, social status, elegance and almost regal dignity. Coach use the logo on all their products, usually through gold hardware. However, as well as their logo, Coach also has signature prints incorporating the 'C' into an iconic, recognisable pattern.

"Building upon our strong brand and business equities, we are in the process of transforming from an international accessories business to a global lifestyle brand, anchored in accessories, presenting a clear and compelling expression of the Coach woman and man across all product categories, store environments and brand imagery." -COACH

For such a traditional brand, Coach's marketing strategy adopts predominantly modern, internet reliant methods of communication, mostly through social media and targeted emailing (Soni, P. 2020). They also use many celebrity endorsements (e.g. Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez, Megan Thee Stallion) as well as frequent flash sales to generate brand excitement and reach a wider audience.

Coach sells through their own stores, their website, department stores, and also outlets. The coach stores are usually small and have a boutique feel. As a consumer, this allows for a more personal, luxury experience. However, since Coach decided to change 
their strategy in 2014 they have pulled out of 250 department stores, and started to close all their own stores that are not as profitable. It is clear that they are trying to gradually move their retail environment to predominantly online (Bells, S. 2017).

The packaging that Coach uses is in line with what is expected from a luxury retailer. A handbag, for example, will be packaged in a dust bag, inside a box, then depending on whether it is purchased in-store will be placed inside a large, structured bag. Coach is a brand that exudes luxury, timelessness and craftsmanship and this is reflected in their packaging design. The use of the brown shade mirrors their roots as a maker of leather goods, with the touches of gold to allude to prestige.

The fashion of the Sixties

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

 In the 50s, fashion was dominated by the tastes of the wealthy, mature elite, but by the early 60s, young peoples incomes were at its highest since the end of WW2. This increased economic power fuelled a new sense of identity and the need to express it. The fashion industry responded by designing for young people in a way that no longer simply copied the styles of the older generation.

The Beatniks and Mods (short for modernists) were very influential in the early 60s. A great reference for this is the Beatles film 'A Hard Days Night'.


Mods were as committed to European-style clothes (characterised by high-impact colour and line) as they were to American soul and R&B music. They helped focus the tastes of young people everywhere and inspired the looks of bands such as The Who and The Beatles. Mod fashion was identified by mini-skirts, jumpers, shift dresses, patent rain trenches, patent gogo boots, and tights. 


In the post-war years, novelist Jack Kerouac coined the term "beat generation" to describe a group of creative, intellectual, anti-conformists. Then in 1958, an American news columnist described the individuals within this generation as 'Beatniks'. Beatniks emphasized the expression of freedom and creativity in their work and this was reflected in how they dressed. Their dark, form-fitting fashion was simplistic yet rebellious, and that was exactly its appeal.

The rise of the boutique

Boutiques were small, self-service shops set up in London (centred on Kings Road and Carnaby Street) by designers who aspired to offer affordable fashions to ordinary young people. They offered a very different experience to the formal ‘outfitters’ and old-style department stores that came before. Being 'on-the-ground', enabled designers to get to know their customers and cater to their needs quickly. Designers Mary Quant and John Stephen were pioneers of this new form of retail, both opening their stores in the mid-50s. They both stocked hugely influential fashions that initially nodded to the mod aesthetic of bright, tailored minimalism.

The mini-skirt

One of the major breakthroughs of the 1960s was the creation of the birth control pill, allowing women to explore and indulge in their sexuality. This was embodied through the mini skirt, popularised by Mary Quant, eventually becoming the most iconic look of the decade as young women enjoyed their newfound freedom.

Space age

As the decade continued, dress codes became more and more relaxed, demonstrated through looser tailoring and the decline in accessories such as gloves and hats, even Jackie Kennedy began to favour shorter skirts. High-end fashion also embraced the new wave of informality. AndrĂ© Courrèges began releasing his angular mini-dresses and trouser suits, often produced in what became known as a ‘Space Age’ colour palette of white and silver, paired with astronaut style accessories such as flat boots, goggles and helmets.

Eastern influence

By the late 1960s, style had become quite theatrical. Fashion sanctioned longer hair for both men and women, as well as a flared outline for trousers. Men enjoyed the newly granted freedom to be flamboyant, wearing suits accessorised with bright, bold shirts and high-heeled boots, and, increasingly, as clothes became more unisex, shopped in the same boutiques as women. With the war in Vietnam and student uprisings in France, opinion-formers began to disapprove of Pop's materialistic sheen. People moved towards Eastern culture for inspiration. The ideas and mix-and-match aesthetic of California's hippy movement crossed the Atlantic, giving people free rein to 'live different', and to sport clothing from a range of non-Western cultures. Fashion leaders began to sport long, loose and layered outfits, inspired by second-hand, or 'vintage' styles, often from the late nineteenth century and the 1930s. London's Kensington Market became a mecca for young people wanting to create their own alternative look, selling a huge amount of colourful garments, mostly sourced from India.