Kate Spade expected to give Coach a wider reach on millennials

A Kate Spade New York boutique in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands.
A Kate Spade New York boutique in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands. PHOTO: KATE SPADE NEW YORK

SINGAPORE - Luxury fashion brand Coach made international headlines last month when it announced that it was buying handbag and accessories company Kate Spade for USD2.4 billion (SGD3.31 billion).

The acquisition will give Coach a wider reach on millennials, a demographic familiar with Kate Spade - known for its preppy style and brightly coloured apparel.

It was a timely move for Coach and in line with the American brand's rejuvenation, which has seen it move from a staid brand to a more current and youthful one in recent years.

Here is a quick rundown of the two brands:

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Coach

History: Started in 1941, New York City, as a family-run workshop specialising in leather goods and accessories. It opened its first flagship store in New York City on Madison Avenue 40 years later in 1981.

The brand has since expanded beyond leather bags and accessories. It now includes apparel, jewellery and accessories such as watches and eyewear, shoes and fragrances.

Number of stores: The brand has close to 1,000 stores worldwide, all directly-operated by the company. In Singapore, there are nine Coach stores, including boutiques at Paragon and Wisma Atria.

Brand aesthetic: A blend of classic American style with a distinctive New York spirit, such as varsity-style stripe detail on duffel bags and wallets, as well as embroidered jackets for men and studded leather jackets for women.

Bestselling item: The Dinky Crossbody - a small rectangular bag with shoulder strap. Made of glove tanned leather, the compact bag has a hidden kiss lock purse on the inside. As one of the brand's mainstays, there are new colours and designs every season, and customers can personalise their bag with a monogram at all Coach stores.

Most interesting: The brand's dinosaur mascot, Rexy, which was introduced in the Spring 2016 ready-to-wear collection. It is a playful homage to the Coach girl's signature quirky style and has continued to show in the brand's 2017 collections, as well as its upcoming Pre-Fall 2017 collection on ready to wear, leather bags, accessories and more.

kate spade new york

History: Kate Spade was founded in 1993 by Kate Valentine (who was then known as Kate Spade - she changed her name last year) and her business partner, now-husband Andy Spade, with the aim of designing the perfect handbag. In 2006, the brand was acquired by Liz Claiborne Inc, which was then renamed Kate Spade & Company in 2014.

In addition to handbags, kate spade new york also sells apparel, jewellery, fragrance, shoes as well as as home furnishing such as bedding. In 2016, it introduced the Broome Street label, which offers a range of casual apparel such as denim and cotton T-shirts.

Kate Spade & Company designs and sells apparel and accessories under two main brands: kate spade new york and Jack Spade New York. Last year, the company made USD1.38 billion, up 14 per cent from 2015.

Number of stores: As of Dec 31 2016, the brand has more than 160 speciality retail and outlet stores in the United States. There are eight stores in Singapore, including one at Changi Airport Terminal 3.

Brand aesthetic: Colourful accessories and apparel with graphic patterns such as dots, stripes and diamonds or quirky prints of items such as chillies.

Most interesting product: Apart from its brightly-coloured goods, the brand is known for its quirky clutches and bags in shapes such as a potted cactus and bird cage.

alywoo@sph.com.sg