Founded under the name Manhattan Leather Bags by Lillian and Miles Cahn in 1941, Coach has grown into one of the most successful entry-level luxury brands.
With each bag handcrafted to perfection, it’s hard not to fall in love with the kind of love and effort the brand puts into its products.
Entrance to Coach store in New Town Plaza shopping mall in Hong Kong, China (Credit: Sorbis / Shutterstock)
Coach endorser Selena Gomez signs a bag to give away to fans (Credit: Coach)
According to The Financial Times, the US handbags and accessories group has taken “a higher-profile approach than many of its competitors in fighting counterfeiting in China” to keep the “brand’s integrity intact.”
Despite their efforts, it’s important to know how to tell a fake Coach bag from a real one.
The New York Times reported in December 2018 that investigators had seized fake luxury goods worth half a billion dollars. The knockoff handbags included Gucci, Tory Burch, Hermes, Coach, Burberry, Michael Kors, and Louis Vuitton.
The iconic American brand Coach was founded in 1941 as a family-run workshop in a New York City loft located on 34th Street in Manhattan
Check out these nine easy ways to know if your bag is authentic or not:
1. Where to buy authentic Coach bags
Coach does not sell products at flea markets, through street vendors, or in kiosks in malls. In addition to the official Coach website, you can buy authentic handbags and shoes at Zappos, Nordstrom, and Macy’s.
You can also check out Coach Outlet, which offers discounted products, including handbags, wallets, luggage, shoes, and other accessories. The products sold at Coach Outlet stores may be from past seasons, overstock items, or special collections.
2. Each handcrafted bag should exude quality
Coach prides itself on being a company that creates handcrafted bags. Established in 1941, the brand has held quality craftsmanship in the highest regard. The same is still true today.
One of the first things you should check is the overall craftsmanship of the bag. A poorly made bag will have ill-fitting leather pieces that cause the product to bulk in areas.
Check that the outer shell is made from high-quality leather material. Overall, it should smell and feel like genuine leather. If your bag is second-hand, natural leather will stand the test of time, growing beautiful aging marks such as tiny creases.
Each handcrafted Coach bag should exude quality
For bags with rings, the leather loop where it connects should feel snug. This prevents the handles from moving around loosely. Counterfeit bags usually have a lot of space inside the loop.
3. The stitching should be symmetrical
When spotting counterfeit Coach bags, the difference between beautiful and sloppy stitching is a dead giveaway.
While most Coach bags are now made in China – the motherland of counterfeits – Coach still prides itself on quality stitching that runs beautifully across its products.
Authentic Coach bags will have perfectly symmetrical stitching that is even and uniform
Although Coach is not perfect in their stitching, the hiccups are minor compared to counterfeit ones.
Fake Coach bags will have blatantly bad stitching, with some stitches running over each other. The spacing between the stitching is also often uneven.
4. The hardware and tags should be made from quality materials
Coach hardware is usually made out of brass or nickel. A great way to tell whether your bag has quality hardware is to check its weight. Authentic hardware should feel solid and heavy, while the hardware on fake bags is light and made from cheap metals.
If your bag has rings connecting the handle to the body, check to see if the rings are solid and seamless. On rare occasions, Coach will have rings with seams, but they are beautifully polished and aligned.
The hardware and tags should be made of high-quality materials, such as brass or nickel
Be wary of Coach bags with plastic over the hardware. Counterfeit bag makers do this to prevent humidity from tarnishing the low-quality metal. Authentic hardware won’t tarnish.
Check to see if the zipper snags. Genuine zippers should unzip easily. Also, Coach uses YKK and Ideal zippers, so don’t panic if you see these brands on the hardware.
Coach bag tags are usually made from leather hanging from a beaded chain. However, recent models have made use of metal tags as well.
5. The iconic CC pattern should be neatly aligned
There’s a lot of talk behind the dos and don’ts of the monograms, but with Coach releasing different versions of the Cs, it has become increasingly unclear what the standard is.
Two things are for sure: first, the Cs must be symmetrical, and second, they always follow a certain pattern. Whether printed or embroidered, the pattern should follow two Cs facing each other, followed by two Cs beside each other.
The signature CC pattern should be neatly aligned, both horizontally and vertically (Credit: Wild As Light / Shutterstock)
Some claim Cs that are cut off are perfectly aligned at the seams. Due to certain styles (like those having invisible zippers or diagonal darts), this has not been a consistent standard.
6. The lining is usually solid and made out of quality cotton, satin, or canvas
A quick way to spot a fake Coach bag is simply by looking at the lining. A Coach bag with Cs outside will have a solid-colored lining.
Occasionally, vibrant linings are used for limited-edition items. When the brand does use Cs for the lining, it’s a subtle dark-on-dark coloring.
The lining is usually solid and made out of quality cotton, satin, or canvas
Another good way of determining fakes is to look at the lining quality. Coach uses thick cotton, satin, or canvas to line the insides of their bags.
If the lining is overly shiny or reminds you of an 80s prom, chances are it’s fake.
Coach uses thick cotton, satin, or canvas to line the insides of their bags
7. For most bags, the creed patch and serial number should be easily found
Regular-sized Coach bags usually come with a creed patch on the inside. For smaller bags and wallets, the creed patch is usually absent.
Creed patches contain a paragraph in all capital letters that make sense. Some fake creed patches look okay from afar but make no sense when you read them. Others will have a mix of upper and lower-case text.
The creed patch and serial number should be easily found
Below the paragraph is a serial number that starts with a letter followed by four numbers, a dash, and more numbers.
The letter corresponds to the month it was made (A – January, B – February, etc.), followed by two digits referring to its make year, then two digits referring to its place of manufacture.
The last set of digits is the style code. You can usually spot the letter F right before the style code when buying from a factory outlet.
If you don’t find the serial numbers on your creed patch, don’t panic. As of 2014, Coach stopped putting the numbers on the patches. Instead, they include them on little white labels that you can find inside the inner pocket.
8. The dust bag and packaging should be consistent
The dust bag should be white with the Coach logo on the bottom right. If the dust bag has the logo in the middle, it’s probably a fake.
If you order your purses through their website, the package includes a letter explaining a little about Coach’s history. It should be signed by Coach’s president of retail. The official invoice should also be included inside the box.
Most Coach bags are made in China, but the company also has factories in Vietnam, India, the Philippines, and Myanmar (Credit: Sorbis / Shutterstock)
Coach bags usually come in sheets of thin quality paper that have a gold sticker on them. The gold sticker should also have the Coach logo on it.
9. The iconic horse and buggy logo should be tastefully detailed
The Coach logo differs depending on the line where the bag came from. Some have the words “Coach New York” underneath, while some read “Coach Leatherware Established 1941”.
White Coach gift box with the iconic horse and carriage logo (Credit: UcigPhoto / Shutterstock)
The iconic horse and buggy also differ in size. Usually, for the older models, the horse and buggy are quite big compared to the newer ones. They should also be facing to the left.
The iconic horse and buggy logo should be tastefully detailed
A good way to tell a fake is by looking at the details of the horse and buggy. The original will have a detailed, artful one (except for the line where they changed the horse into a dinosaur – true story), while the fakes look sloppy.
If you’re still in doubt, don’t hesitate to call Coach for help authenticating your purse. Have your product’s serial number ready and ask them to run it through their system.
Coach Questions and Answers
How much does a Coach handbag cost?
Wristlets usually retail for around $95, and small bags for about $200. On the high end, some handbags made from luxurious genuine alligator leather and other expensive materials cost several thousand dollars.
“Because our quality, our value, the brand heat is there — our consumer is giving us a way to be more fulsome in our pricing,” Coach’s chief executive Todd Kahn said in November 2021 about the brand increasing its prices following the pandemic.
Coach does not sell its products at flea markets, through street vendors, or in kiosks in malls. If you see a Coach product sold at a significantly discounted price, it is likely counterfeit. Counterfeit products are often made with low-quality materials and may be unsafe.
Where are Coach handbags made?
In the 1990s, Coach began to outsource production to China. This allowed the company to reduce costs and increase profits.
However, the move to China also led to criticism, as some people believe it is unethical to produce luxury goods in countries with low wages and poor working conditions.
Most bags are made in China, but the company started moving production to other countries after President Donald Trump slapped significant tariffs on Chinese goods.
Jennifer Lopez became the new global face of Coach in November 2019 (Credit: Coach)
“Like many in our industry, we do not always have direct control over every stage of our product life cycle,” Tapestry writes in its 2019 corporate responsibility report.
In addition to China, Coach bags, wallets, and other ready-to-wear items are reportedly manufactured in Vietnam, India, the Philippines, Thailand, and Myanmar.
“What is typical in this industry is a very narrow window to sell,” Coach’s chief executive officer Todd Kahn told Bloomberg in August 2021. That “is not necessarily the case for us.” Around 40% of Coach handbags are made in Vietnam, Kahn said.
Do all authentic Coach purses have a serial number?
Smaller items like wallets, pouches, wristlets, and cosmetic bags will usually not have serial numbers.
While most bags have serial numbers, unfortunately, Coach does not respond to email requests to authenticate products or identify authorized distributors.
One of Coach’s most popular bags and inspired by the heartbeat of New York City, the Beat bag features the brand’s iconic Horse and Carriage motif
Coach does not offer an official serial number lookup resource. Even if you have a serial number, you cannot verify your product’s authenticity online.
Do I need to register my Coach purse?
No, there is no way to register your Coach purse. The company offers a one-year warranty on all bags and small leather goods.
Bring your receipt when visiting your nearest Coach store to address quality-related issues within this time frame.
Created by sportswear pioneer Bonnie Cashin in 1962, Coach’s iconic logo features an image of a horse and carriage with the company name beneath the image (Credit: Poetra.RH / Shutterstock)
Do Coach bags have a lifetime warranty?
No, Coach bags do not have a lifetime warranty. However, they offer a one-year warranty on all products purchased online or from a retail or outlet store.
This warranty covers manufacturing defects but does not cover wear and tear. If your Coach bag develops a manufacturing defect within one year of purchase, you can return it to Coach for a replacement or refund.
The iconic handbag brand also offers a lifetime leather care service. This service is free for all Coach products, including cleaning, conditioning, and repair. You can bring your Coach product to any Coach retail store for this service or mail it to Coach’s repair workshop.
If your Coach product is over one year old and develops a problem, you can still contact Coach customer service. They may be able to help you repair the product, or they may offer you a discount on a new product.
Coach Celebrity Fans
Check out some of the brand’s Hollywood celebrity followers below:
Emma Roberts, Ariana Grande, and Chloe Moretz love their Coach basics (Credit: WENN)
Alessandra Ambrosio and Selena Gomez take their black Coach purses out on errands (Credit: WENN)
Chrissy Teigen toting her favorite Coach handbag (Credit: WENN)
Eva Longoria, Karlie Kloss, and Kate Bosworth are only among the long list of Hollywood celebrities who love their Coach bags (Credit: WENN)
For more tips on busting fake Coach bags, watch the video below: