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On the Jedi Mind-Tricks of Luxury Leather Goods–and the Luxury Man-Purse–all brought to you by Coach

13 Jul

Like many people, my little brother John is looking for a job. He’s a recent college grad, he’s going to lots of interviews, and he’s trying to use all the tips, tricks, and voodoo that he can to get hired. In the past few weeks John’s revised and re-revised his resume, and he’s polished his interviewing skills. He’s more than qualified. But he needs to stand out–in any way he can–from other candidates. This calls for some Jedi mind trickery.

If you ask me, there are few things that can perform Jedi mind-tricks on people better than luxury leather goods. Think about it. When you see a woman with an iconic Hermès Birkin Bag, what happens? You immediately know things about her–like, she’s wealthy. She’s successful. She’s X (insert powerful adjective here). This is what I mean by Jedi mind-tricks.

Who would ever think that saltwater crocodile or goat skins should symbolize status, wealth, and success.

So, I’m on a mission. John needs a wallet and a briefcase, and he needs them to say, “You know you want to hire me.” This is how I suddenly find myself on Coach.com.

Why would I look at Coach, you ask–aren’t they just for women? Well, not anymore. Coach’s most recent step in taking over the world is Coach for Men, their first men’s-only store located at 370 Bleeker Street in New York City’s West Village, which opened late this spring. If you can’t make it to the store check out their website, which offers store exclusives.

I found myself drawn to this little beauty, called a “Transatlantic Flap Business Brief.” Doesn’t this bag make the mannequin look like a top-notch job candidate? That’s what $498 will buy you.

I like the versatile carrying options this one offers–and I think Coach is smart to style it on the mannequin in the fashion of a messenger bag–it’s very “Young Professional.” However, the hardware and the distinguished look of the flap keep the bag from being overly youthful.

Looking for a less expensive option, I stumbled upon this one–called a “Bedford Portfolio Envelope”–it’s a hundred dollars less at $398.

What’s nice about this choice is that it has a business card holder and credit card slots inside, which might eliminate the professional requirements that call for a new wallet, in addition to a new briefcase. But, I’m afraid that as far as my brother’s tastes are concerned, our Bedford Envelope friend may tread in dangerous “man-purse” waters. It does somewhat resemble a giant clutch. So, even though there’s lots about this choice that I like, I’ll leave him for another, more fashion forward man.

You may be wondering, where is the line between a business brief and man-purse? Well, if you’re a man shopping at Coach, the line is somewhere between the Bedford Envelope and this option:

This is called a “Coach Op Art Leather Medium Business Tote,” and goes for $498. The detailing on this bag definitely gives it more personality than the standard brief case. I like the signature Coach “c” pattern, the glovetan leather trim, and of course the efficient, all-purpose tote shape. I would definitely use this at work–but, I’m a woman. I imagine this bag isn’t for every guy–it’s more likely to appeal to a man with sophisticated taste who many already have brand-loyalty to Coach.

Even if you’re not a fan of Coach’s man-purse, I think there’s a lot to appreciate in their new expanded men’s line. Besides luxury leather goods, other products offered range from footwear to outerwear, watches, fragrance and special pieces, like a dog collar for Man’s best friend.  And, since we’re talking about business “accessories” here, it seems appropriate to mention that Coach for Men can only benefit Coach’s business model–in other words, (sorry, I can’t help myself) the expanded men’s line is certainly expanding Coach’s bottom line.

In fact, according to Morningstar, an independent investment research company, Coach’s diversification into new market segments like Men’s luxury goods will fuel the company’s growth in the next 5 years. To be specific, Morningstar estimates Coach will grow 16% in the next 5 years. Let’s put this into context–Morningstar estimates that the Luxury Goods Industry itself, over the same 5 year period, will grow only 13.7%, while the S&P 500 will grow 10.7%.

Next 5 Years’ Estimated Growth% Forward P/E PEG Ratio
Stock 16.0 14.2 0.9
Industry 13.7
S&P 500 10.7

data taken from Morningstar, Inc. Quicktake report generated 7-12-10 for Coach stock (COH)

So, long story short: I’m going to advise John to invest in a good briefcase–his professional wardrobe will thank him later. Meanwhile, I’m going to invest in Coach’s stock!

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