Coach… road-tested and still in perfect condition after thirty years on the planet

I remember hearing my grandmother talk about trusted handbags as a child. I’m pretty sure she was speaking of small delicate clutches and how a good investment in a proper evening bag would last you a lifetime. I can’t be sure if these memories are true or ones that have just appeared in my memory over time, randomly, as I’ve become more and more obsessed with remembering my earliest moments with fashion. One thing I do remember, clear as day, is my mother’s own obsession with her buttery soft Coach leather bags. Some she still has in her closet after thirty years on earth, and some I have liberated from her stash. I’m thinking one handbag won’t go missed too badly, will it?

Well, the cat’s officially out of the bag as I’m sharing this now. Today I took my (or her) vintage Coach bag out for a twirl in London. With not a scratch on it, it looks as if it could be a bag from the recent collection Net-a-Porter carried celebrating the brand’s heritage. However, this classic is dated circa 1983. It’s an oldie but a goodie.

The reason I bring this up now is to draw your attention to the real investments in leather goods. All too often we are persuaded to part with our money as we fall for the “it” bag of the season. However, the “it” bag only lasts as long as it’s hot. There is no thirty year plan for the must have bag. It is constructed and exists to be treasured like fashion folklore. It serves it’s purpose and then quietly steps aside for the newbie to take over the next season.

In my life, I have seen only a handful of designs from brands that have stood the test of time. The old favourites come to mind – Hermes, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and, of course, Coach. Their creations continue to be treasured and handed down through the generations. These are the bags that not only hold their monetary value but also a great sentimental value as well. It’s with this thought in mind that I would like to encourage those entering the handbag arena to think outside the “it” bag phenomenon and think about contributing a bag that will stand the test of time in a material that will look better thirty years down the road that it did the first day it was carried.

And for those of you with access to an older generation’s closet, try shopping in their archive this weekend. I think you’ll be surprised by what you find and what has miraculously come back into style.


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