I was first introduced to the Coach handbag in the late 1980s, when I was given a cherry red Coach satchel bag. I used it for years, and loved the way the glove-tanned leather (the same as is used for baseball mitts) became more buttery and better looking with age.
What makes these superbly crafted bags, from the US company established in New York in 1941, so appealing to me is their robustness and simple functionality: the leather, brass buckles, dog-lead clips and turnlocks are designed to last much longer than a few fashion seasons. And although the bags are unlined, the leather and tanning process is of such a high quality that “suederuff” (where flakes of suede end up all over the contents of your bag and ultimately, your clothes), a problem common in other unlined leather bags, will never be a concern.
My red tote was eventually consigned to the back of the wardrobe, but there has never been a better time to haul it back out, because Coach is enjoying its moment in the fashion spotlight again. The company has re-issued a series of its classic bags from the 1960s, originally created in collaboration with US fashion designer Bonnie Cashin, and Net-a-Porter has scooped the retail exclusive on these (from £275 for the small leather shoulder bag).
A Coach bag is generally unladen by the ridiculous, excessive and weighty hardware that typifies an “it” bag, and yet there is nothing more “it” at the moment than a Coach Classic.
First picture: Coach Field bag, £475. Second picture: Coach Madison small leather tote, £325.