When Coach was founded in early 1940s Manhattan, the emphasis was on quality American leather goods that were as functional as they were stylish. Every product - from a lady's handbag to a gentleman's briefcase - was notable for both the quality of material (thick, supple leather, sturdy hardware) and reasonable price. But by the late '90s/early 2000s their handbags had gone from chic classics to the ultimate status symbol in the high school mean-girl hierarchy (Dooney & Bourke placed a close second). Now Coach is seeking to stake a claim in high-end markets normally reserved for the likes of Louis Vuitton. Earlier this year Coach launched Coach Legacy, a line of $500-$800 purses and $10,000 alligator handbags. Not quite "affordable luxury," their original catchphrase. The clearest expression of where Coach has set their sights? Their new horse and buggy logo, which looks an awful lot like Hermes'. Is Coach the scheming social climber of the handbag world? -- NATALIE GUEVARA
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LVMH Wants to Make Louis Vuitton More Like Hermès
France's largest luxury conglomerate wants to get even more luxurious--and they're taking inspiration from a luxury brand they've been admiring for a while now: Hermès. LVMH has been buying shares in Hermès since 2010 and their unyielding interest in the heritage brand has prompted speculation that LVMH intends to one day add Hermes to their own portfolio. For now, though, they'll settle for using Hermès as a business model in an effort to ensure that Vuitton retains its image as "exclusive" and its "high-end mystique," says a report from Reuters. The challenge Louis Vuitton faces, along with many widely recognizable name brands who feature heavily in rap songs and knock-off operations, is expanding and increasing profits without seeming too mass or attainable, especially given the ubiquity of their signature monogram. Their solution is to just keep providing even more expensive products and services that even fewer people can afford--like artisanal made to order handbags (that won't look like Canal St. knock-offs)--and a more exclusive shopping experience.