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Coach Is Building Out a Men's Lifestyle Brand

Starting with shoes.

Over the past few seasons, we've watched as Coach revamped and expanded its womenswear category with the goal of transforming it into a more fashion-forward luxury lifestyle brand: This involved the addition of more luxurious leather goods (including, of course, handbags), the hiring of Stuart Vevers as creative director, the growth of women's ready-to-wear, a Steven Meisel-lensed ad campaign and a Colette exclusive to boot.

Next, it seems, the brand is hoping to do the same with men's, beginning with a full footwear collection to launch this fall, the same time Vevers's first women's ready-to-wear collection hits stores. While menswear and men's accessories are not the first things that comes to mind when we think about Coach, the company actually launched as a men's brand in 1941. Things have obviously shifted since then, but men's accessories have been a significant part of its product assortment for a while. In 2010, the company poached Greg Unis from Brooks Brothers to head up and grow its menswear division.

The footwear collection consists of of 15 silhouettes, including classic Italian leather boots, oxfords and monk straps. According to a the company, the launch is "a reflection of the success Coach has experienced with its men’s business in recent years." Unis also tells WWD that it's a step towards building a full men's lifestyle brand; a full ready-to-wear collection may be unveiled as soon as fall 2015 fashion week next February. A rep for Coach could not confirm whether a NYFW show was in the works.

Conquering both menswear and womenswear has proven challenging for many brands and seems to work best when a brand doesn't have an overwhelmingly feminine aesthetic  -- think Rag & Bone and A.P.C. When we think about Coach, we do sort of think "purses," but it certainly isn't the girliest of brands. It will be most interesting to see if men feel comfortable going into Coach stores -- where the shoes will be sold exclusively and where the majority of merchandise is geared towards women.

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