South Park Magazine

Coach classics jog my purse-loving memories

A Coach bag should be credited with starting my entire purse obsession, and even my fixation with gigantic bags. I wasn’t reminded of this until Coach Classics came onto my radar recently.

The accessories giant has reissued five of their classic styles from the 1970s. I am beyond excited, as my relationship with Coach is long and nuanced, and involves status, elitism, logo rejection and my eternal love of all things vintage.

But let me start at the beginning, way back in the day when pegged jeans were haute and the shopping mall was the center of my late ’80s universe. Like any good pre-teen born into a family of legit shopaholics, Friday nights for me meant hitting Lakeside Mall with my mom, grandma and at least one aunt, possibly more.

We’d start at Lord & Taylor (ample parking, not too crowded), where we’d walk through the handbag department because Gram Freda had a jones for a good bag, especially Coach. So much so that she received them as gifts for her birthday and Christmas every year until her closet was jammed with every style and color imaginable.

It was during one of those numerous trips to Lakeside that I first spied what I called the feedbag purse — a giant black bucket bag of luxe, stiff leather, only accented by brass grommets and findings and a spare Coach hangtag. It was exquisite. And way too rich for my no-job-having budget. I eventually bought myself a black leather Coach bag when I was in college, though not the feedbag of my dreams and it could never truly measure up.

I fell out of love with Coach as they moved away from the classic leather bags in the 1990s and 2000s. But during a trip to Fashion Week back in 2010, I noticed a woman sitting in the front row at the Joseph Altuzarra show with a well-loved Coach Willis bag at her feet. Had vintage Coach become haute and I missed the memo?

See, I had never truly been able to get over my love of those stiff leather, old school Coach bags. So I hoarded quietly and focused on vintage. And after I returned from New York, I couldn’t wait to bust out the vintage navy Court bag I had rescued from the donation bin after my Gram Freda’s passing. Or the seasoned black duffle I picked up from a resale shop for $30. Or the chocolate brown Legacy Zip a friend passed off to me.

Everything old is new again, and you can bet I’ll be carrying my vintage Coach black feedbag purse with pride this fall.