Coach: We’re a Lifestyle Brand

Not just pricey purses anymore

At a time when Versace is selling kids’ clothes and Oscar de la Renta just introduced a line of stationery, it’s clear that luxury brands are moving quickly past their signature items and evolving into whole-life outfitters. Now we can add Coach to that mix. Its latest campaign, “Coach New York Stories,” not only spotlights the leather-goods brand’s Manhattan roots, but also marks the first time Coach’s fashions—not just its handbags—will appear in ads. As Trey Laird of creative agency Laird+Partners put it, “This is a pivotal time for Coach as it transitions from being just a ‘bag brand’ to a complete lifestyle world.” Coach’s evp of marketing Stephanie Stahl told Adweek what that world’s going to look like.

Coach's Stephanie Stahl

Coach’s plan is to become “a premium lifestyle brand.” But isn’t that sort of what you are already?
We’ve had offerings in many categories for a long time, from footwear to sunglasses. But we have not messaged it to the consumer in the way we’re starting to do now. We’re showcasing our full assortment of products in the context of the complete Coach brand.

Your company is 72 years old and has earned a reputation of being among the finest leather-goods brands in the world. Why change a successful formula?
For us, to continue to compete globally, we feel that this is an opportunity for us to broaden out into lifestyle, which is largely just communicating what we already do in a more fashion-relevant way.

We’re showcasing our core products—bags—in the context of Coach fashion. This is the first time that everything you see in the ad is from Coach, from outerwear to ready-to-wear. The other piece that’s different is a more emotional and expansive image; you get the full look. In the past, we sometimes put the camera too close.

And it’s called “Coach New York Stories”—shot on location and featuring models who are native New Yorkers. Tell us about that.
New York has always been our home, and through the decades, it’s the city we draw our energy and dynamism from. We shot the West Village ad because our model Karlie Kloss lives there, and it’s authentic to her story. So this is an interaction of Coach’s history and heritage with the stories of these models.

It’s unusual that you’re treating models as, well, real-life people.
They have real links to the city and stories to tell. We also have videos of them at, which will augment what you’re seeing.

Heritage luxury brands have awakened to the fact that there’s opportunity in creating and marketing goods outside the strict confines of what the public knows it for. It’s why Armani’s doing a home collection. Do you see Coach as fitting into that trend?
That’s a great question. Every company has to do its own thing in its evolution. Today, most people know us for selling wonderful handbags. This is an opportunity to let people know that we have much more than that.

How many Coach handbags are in your closet at home?
I try not to count them because I'd have to tell my husband.