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Coach Is Launching a New Brand Built on Circularity

Introducing Coachtopia.

Coach has introduced various sustainability-focused initiatives over the past few years, but the company is making its biggest bet on circular fashion systems yet, launching a whole new brand built on the idea of working toward zero waste.

Meet Coachtopia, a new line of apparel and accessories (like bags, of course) made from primarily recycled materials and designed to have multiple lives through construction that allows them to be repaired, reworked and reimagined. 

“At Coach, we’ve been making significant investments over the past years in improving the sustainability of our end-to-end operations, and, together with our parent company Tapestry, have made a lot of commitments [about this],” says Joon Silverstein, SVP of global marketing, creative and sustainability at Coach and the head of Coachtopia. “As part of that, we have been focused on innovating new circular business models, because fundamentally the challenge of fashion is that it operates like most industries: as a linear system. We realized that, while all the work we’re doing to improve sustainability of all our activities is crucial, to fundamentally transform our impact we also need to go beyond thinking about individual products or processes and think about how to more fundamentally transform the system from a linear one to a circular one.”

The first step toward accomplishing this, according to Silverstein, was Coach (Re)Loved, a program introduced in April 2021 through which the brand will accept “pre-loved” Coach products as trade-ins for credit, fix them up and give them a second life in other ways. It proved to be instrumental, not just in the making of Coachtopia, but also in Coach’s understanding of circularity within its supply chain.

“Specifically, we realized that a lot of traditional luxury craftsmanship makes circularity at scale challenging, because products in general were not designed or made with circularity in in mind,” she says. “We realized that in order to truly scale circularity, we needed to design for circularity from the outset.”

The Dinky — one of Coachtopia’s signature bag shapes — in the launch campaign.

Photo: Remi Ferrante/Courtesy of Coachtopia

All the leather Coachtopia uses comes either from Coach production waste or is “made with at least 50% recycled leather scraps from tanneries,” according to a press release. The thread used to stitch the handbags together is 100% recycled polyester; the company worked with (and invested in) Gen Phoenix to create a “soft and durable uncoated leather lining made with at least 50% recycled leather scraps and 75% total recycled content” that’s used throughout the collection. The plastic hardware on accessories is made using “70%+ recycled resin,” while the canvas totes and webbing on shoes are made from 100% recycled polyester. (Footwear soles are made from a “40% bio-based renewable Sugarcane EVA,” per the brand.) The apparel, meanwhile, is made from “95%+ recycled cotton” (in the case of the hoodies and T-shirts, sourced from Everywhere Apparel) or “repurposed denim deadstock”; the labels inside all products are made from 100% recycled polyester or nylon.

“A big focus for Coachtopia is looking differently at waste and seeing waste as a valuable raw material,” Silverstein says. “We’re focused on transforming the waste we and Coach generate in the making of our products, specifically our leather goods, and harnessing our 80 years of leather craft expertise to turn [waste] into beautiful materials for Coachtopia products. We’re continually challenging ourselves with a nothing-new mindset: How do we continually work to increase the use of recycled and upcycled materials versus new materials?”

Beyond materials, Coachtopia products are designed to have multiple lives, with considerations for how something might be repaired or reworked later on. They’re made to be easily disassembled, for example, and use removable screw-back hardware, seam-out constructions and detachable handles and straps — all things that can be easily replaced should they break or get damaged. Plus, customers will be able to trade in Coachtopia items at Coach stores in exchange for credit. 

The launch campaign for Coachtopia, featuring the Dinky.

Photo: Remi Ferrante/Courtesy of Coachtopia

Coachtopia launches Thursday online in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., and in-store at Selfridges in London. Its brick-and-mortar footprint will expand to Spitalfields (also in London) on April 28; in May, it will roll out to Coach stores across the U.S. (including Coach House Fifth Avenue in New York, N. Michigan Avenue in Chicago, The Grove in Los Angeles and Dadeland in Miami) and more Selfridges locations. London’s Coach House Regent Street and New York’s Coach Soho locations will begin carrying it over the summer. An Asia rollout is set for later this year.

Prices start at $20 for a sticker set and $55 for a bag charm, and go up to $425 on select Dinky styles (one of Coachtopia’s signature bag shapes).

In a statement, Coach Creative Director Stuart Vevers said of the launch: “We were inspired by our shared desire to do better for the planet by inventing new circular ways of dreaming, designing and creating. It’s a bigger, bolder step forward in realizing our vision for sustainability at Coach, where we prioritize experimenting and learning and ethical design intentions over cookie cutter perfection.”

The Ergo — another key Coachtopia bag — in the launch campaign.

Photo: Remi Ferrante/Courtesy of Coachtopia

According to Silverstein, this launch has been 20 months in the making. The company decided to spin this off as its own brand — instead of a new category within the main Coach line — because “we knew our vision would require not only significant shifts in thinking, but also radically new ways of working.”

“Circularity requires us to reimagine not just the product life cycle, but the relationship between brand, planet and consumer,” she says. “We have to flip our mindset at every step of what we do. So, as we thought about realizing the opportunity and how to best set ourselves up to be able to prototype and experiment really boldly in this space, we decided to set it up as an agile startup within Coach, operating with an independent culture and power to innovate boldly, being able to harness the organization’s strengths, but also step outside the existing system in order to rethink it.”

Also crucial to Coachtopia’s development was a collective of 100+ Gen Z individuals (a “Beta Community,” as the company refers to it), ranging from climate activists to designers to journalists to filmmakers and more. This group helped shape the direction of the brand “since the earliest days,” per Silverstein, weighing in on everything from design to messaging. (They even have their own Slack channel.)

Coachtopia accessories and apparel.

Photo: Remi Ferrante/Courtesy of Coachtopia

“Our overriding mission is to accelerate our transition to a circular economy in fashion, but the ‘how’ is by creating Coachtopia not for, but with our consumer,” Silverstein says, “really thinking about engaging our Gen Z consumers in a more collaborative model of creativity… It’s not just about changing the way we design and make products: It’s about resetting the relationship we have with our consumers.” 

The “Beta Community” isn’t staying behind-the-scenes, necessarily: Some of the artwork featured in the Coachtopia launch collection was created by one of its members, graphic designer and illustrator Sabrina Lau. Later on, we’ll see limited-edition capsules from select alums of the CFDA x Coach Dream It Real Circular Design Scholarship, who competed in a Coachtopia Waste Contest.

“We know it’s important to bring in new perspectives to tackling problems in new ways, but also because we’re building Coachtopia as a platform for change, championing and investing in emerging talent and thought-leaders,” Silverstain says. 

Coachtopia bags

Photo: Remi Ferrante/Courtesy of Coachtopia

Though technically its own thing, Coachtopia is “mutually linked” to the Coach brand, Silverstein emphasizes: Coachtopia serves as a sort of “discovery lab,” she explains, “with the ultimate mission of making Coach overall more circular.” Silverstein also acknowledges the risk of greenwashing that is present anytime a big brand endeavors to make moves in this space.

“Even the concept of circularity is not well-established,” she notes. “It’s a fairly misunderstood term that has become a bit of a buzzword. But we believe that it’s important for Coach to be part of a growing community of brands, non-profit organizations and other individuals working to develop emerging standards for what circularity means…. The goal is that, as Coach and Coachtopia form a symbiotic ecosystem where Coachtopia is working to design out waste in all its processes and to transform the waste that we generate into beautiful raw material input, together, Coach and Coachtopia can work towards a zero-waste future.”

See Coachtopia’s inaugural collection, with prices, below.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Black Multi, $350.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Black, $250.

Coachtopia Hoodie in Black Multi, $195.

Coachtopia Dinky in Black Wavy, $395.

Coachtopia Relaxed T-Shirt in Black, $95.

Coachtopia Wavy Card Case in Black, $65.

Coachtopia Wavy Wallet in Black, $115.

Coachtopia Hoodie in Black Multi, $195.

Coachtopia Crossbody Belt Bag in Black, $295.

Coachtopia Mini Crossbody in Black, $195.

Coachtopia Wavy Dinky Bag in Black Chalk, $425.

Coachtopia Long Sleeve in Black Creme, $115.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Black Multi, $350.

Coachtopia Baby T-Shirt in Black, $75.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Black Bubblegum, $350.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Black Multi Mushroom, $275.

Coachtopia Wavy Drinky in Black Multi Mushroom, $425.

Coachtopia Wavy Card Case in Black Multi Mushroom, $75.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Black Multi, $350.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Black Multi, $350.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Black Multi, $350.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Black Multi, $350.

Coachtopia Canvas Tote in Black Multi, $195.

Coachtopia Strappy Sandal in Black Oxblood Multi, $155.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Blue Bubblegum Multi, $350.

Coachtopia Relaxed T-Shirt in Blue Multi, $95.

Coachtopia Tote Bag in Blue Multi, $195.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Burnished Amber Chalk, $350.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Burnished Amber, $250.

Coachtopia Wavy Wallet in Burnished Amber Multi, $115.

Coachtopia Strappy Sandal in Burnished Amber Violet Multi, $155.

Coachtopia Wavy Dinky Shoulder Bag in Burnished Amber, $395.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Buttercup, $350.

Coachtopia Strappy Sandal in Canyon Cloud Multi, $155.

Coachtopia Woven Ergo Bag in Chalk Multi, $350.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Cherry, $275.

Coachtopia Bag Charm in Cloud Multi Cherry, $55.

Coachtopia Wavy Card Case in Cherry, $75.

Coachtopia Wavy Drinky in Cherry, $425.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Confetti Pink Electric Red, $350.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Confetti Pink Electric Red, $350.

Coachtopia Denim Bucket Hat, $150.

Coachtopia Denim Repurposed Mini Skirt, $225.

Coachtopia Denim Repurposed Pants, $350.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Ivory Multi, $350.

Coachtopia Wavy Dinky Shoulder Bag in Ivory, $395.

Coachtopia Crossbody Belt Bag in Lime, $295.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Lime, $250.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Lime Green Multi Strawberry, $275.

Coachtopia Wavy Drinky in Lime Green Multi Strawberry, $425.

Coachtopia Wavy Dinky Shoulder Bag in Lime, $395.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Multi, $350.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Multi, $350.

Coachtopia Hair Clips, $65.

Coachtopia Sticker Set, $20.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Patchwork, $250.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Patchwork, $250.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Patchwork, $350.

Coachtopia Hoodie in Pink, $195.

Coachtopia Long Sleeve in Pink Green, $115.

Coachtopia Baby T-Shirt in Pink Multi, $75.

Coachtopia Baby T-Shirt in Red Multi, $75.

Coachtopia Crossbody Belt Bag in Strawberry Haze, $295.

Coachtopia Bag Charm in Strawberry Haze Lime Green, $55.

Coachtopia Ergo Shoulder Bag in Strawberry Lime, $250.

Coachtopia Crossbody Belt Bag in Vintage Blue, $295.

Coachtopia Wavy Wallet in Vintage Blue Multi, $115.

Coachtopia Wavy Dinky Bag in Vintage Blue, $425.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Violet Orchard, $250.

Coachtopia Mini Crossbody in Violet Orchard, $195.

Coachtopia Wavy Card Case in Violet Orchard, $65.

Coachtopia Wavy Dinky Bag in Violet Orchard, $395.

Coachtopia Wavy Wallet in Violet Orchard, $115.

Coachtopia Bag Charm in Violet Orchid Flax, $55.

Coachtopia Wavy Wallet in Violet Orchid Flax, $115.

Coachtopia Wavy Wallet in Ivory, $115.

Coachtopia Logo Baby T-Shirt in White, $75.

Coachtopia Watcher Graphic Relaxed T-Shirt in White Flower, $95.

Coachtopia Hoodie in White Multi, $195.

Coachtopia Relaxed T-Shirt in White Multi, $95.

Coachtopia Ergo Bag in Yellow Chalk, $350.

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