Why Did Coach Inc. Rebrand As Tapestry? There's More To The 76-Year-Old Company Than Just The Coach Line

Robert Mora/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

In a move that's becoming more and more common for large companies, Coach Inc. announced it's rebranding as Tapestry on Wednesday. Like when Google rebranded as Alphabet in 2015, this is a move that will distance Coach, the brand, from Coach Inc., the parent company that now also owns Stuart Weitzman and Kate Spade.

The brand's new parent company will be Tapestry Inc., which Coach CEO Victor Luis called a "wonderful metaphor for what we believe in, which is individual threads of different colors all working together to create a picture," in an interview with the New York Times. A little cheesy, but the meaning behind the name of the new parent company is clear.

Coach, the 76-year-old fashion brand, has been rapidly evolving since Luis took over as CEO in 2014. The brand had spent years focusing on "entry-level" luxury, like logo handbags, shoes and accessories. But Luis has refocused the brand and brought it back to its roots — classic leather goods. Luis closed stores and got rid of the line's signature logo bands to refocus, and it's clear he was only just beginning.

Another Luis strategy was bringing in millennial customers through a collab with Disney and superstar Selena Gomez, who's starred in numerous ad campaigns. Earlier this year the singer also collaborated with the brand on the Coach x Selena, a collection showcasing Gomez's signature style.  

Gomez's collaboration has been part of her ongoing relationship with Coach, which is one of a few fashion brands she works with.

Collabs that appeal to millennials are one part of the Coach strategy to build its brand, but another major focus is strategic acquisitions. It started when Coach announced it would acquire luxury shoe company Stuart Weitzman in 2015 for $574 million.

Stuart Weitzman The Lowland Boot, $798, stuartweitzman.com

Stuart Weitzman is a true luxury brand — its signature Lowland Boots, which are a winter staple for celebs and fashionistas alike — retail for nearly $800.

The Nudist Sandal, $398, stuartweitzman.com

And the other Stuart Weitzman signature, the $398 Nudist Sandal, is another red carpet staple thanks to its leg elongating properties. For a brand that had been promoting more "entry level" luxury products for years, this was a clear foray into higher end luxury.

Coach's acquisition of Stuart Weitzman was just the beginning though. In May, it announced it would acquire Kate Spade for $2.4 billion. When Coach announced that acquistion, it was through a press release. In it, Ruis said "Through this acquisition, we will create the first New York-based house of modern luxury lifestyle brands, defined by authentic, distinctive products and fashion innovation.”

Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Ruis' intention at the time was pretty clear, and it's only become more clear with the rebranding of Coach Inc. It's part of what the Times refers to as "An escalating race to create the first American Fashion Group." Luxury conglomerates LVMH, Kering and Richemont pretty much control the space right now because they're each houses with multiple brands underneath them (LVMH with Louis Vuitton and Dior, Kering with Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent and Richmont with Chloe and Cartier, among others).

All three conglomerates are based in Europe though, so Coach and Michael Kors are currently racing to create stables of portfolios that will label them luxury houses. After Michael Kors announced its acquisition of Jimmy Choo for $1.2 billion earlier this year, the race was even more apparent. And Coach's rebranding to Tapestry is just another way for it to establish its dominance in the American luxury space. Only time will tell who wins the race, but Luis has made it clear he intends to add more "threads" to the Tapestry.