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Coach's green turn after damaged bags scandal

Coachtopia, new sub-brand offering recycled bags, clothes and shoes

Coach's green turn after damaged bags scandal  Coachtopia, new sub-brand offering recycled bags, clothes and shoes

Cutting up unsold products to declare them as damaged goods and save taxes. That's the accusation made against Coach by influencer/activist Anna Sacks on 31 August last year after she bought shredded bags found in a Texas landfill. And the social scandal was not long in coming, sparking a series of controversies surrounding the American fashion house. Just over six months ago, Coach CEO Todd Kahn attempted to revive the brand's reputation by hinting at a new business model in which products are designed to be recycled and reused, and last Thursday the brand offered a first taste of this "green" turn. It is Coachtopia, a new sub-brand that offers refurbished and recycled bags, clothing, and shoes.

Coachtopia's first collection includes a range of patchwork bags made from recycled leather scraps. The aim is to test the market for new design and production models and to create a starting point for a "circular" business model, where items stay on the market longer and old products are transformed into new ones at the end of their life cycle. It's a decision that seeks a trade-off between the number of products and their associated environmental impact, in the hope of fixing last year's scandal and making it up to a new generation of consumers who are demanding more in terms of sustainability. The brand says it has given more than 20,000 products a second life since it launched a take-back, resell, and repair program in 2021. Last month, parent company Tapestry invested in recycled leather manufacturer Gen Phoenix.

The company has spent the last 20 months mapping the waste in its supply chain and figuring out how to turn it into desirable products. The first drop will be available in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, with plans to sell in Asia later this year. With Coachtopia, the brand is betting that recycled and reused products, once considered of little value, will become a desirable model of more virtuous consumption for a generation of young, environmentally conscious shoppers. The credibility with which the brand pushes the concept will determine the success or failure of a brand that has been struggling to reinvent itself for years.