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Coach pitches Gen Z on Coachtopia -- a sustainable land where fashion is made from waste

Two models wear Coachtopia branded shirts with the new logo under an image of safety pins, dancing flowers, an upside down ice cream cone floating on a cloud underneath a rainbow.
Image Credit: Coach

In the virtual land of Coachtopia, a new initiative spun up by the luxury clothing brand Coach, all items and accessories come with a label about their carbon footprint and are made from recycled and up cycled materials.

It's a land where young celebrities, designers, entrepreneurs and conscious consumers can talk to each other -- and the company -- about what they want to see in a fashion brand.

It's a window into what's possible in fashion -- and a glaring indication of how far most fashion brands (Coach included) have to go.

"Circularity is about reimagining not just the product lifecycle, but the relationship between brand, planet and consumer. That's why we've created Coachtopia as both a discovery lab to pioneer circularity in fashion and a collaborative platform for change," says Joon Silverstein, SVP, Global Marketing, Creative and Sustainability at Coach and Head of Coachtopia, in a statement.

That means the company is cultivating and curating a list of primarily (perhaps exclusively?) Gen Z people to collaborate with the company in a private messaging channel, through social media campaigns, and in collaborations with up-and-coming designers, actors, and fashion influencers focused on reducing waste in the industry.

An image of one of Coachtopia's up cycled Coach bags with leather fringes in red, blue, white, green, and brown, accenting a classic Coach silhouette bag.
Image Credit: Coach

"We know that to transform our impacts, we need to fundamentally shift mindsets—from seeing opportunity in waste to designing backwards to taking a more open-source approach to creativity. We've built Coachtopia as an entirely new world within Coach—an agile start-up with a mission to reimagine the end-to-end system," Silverstein said.

Creating the Coachtopia corner of one of the world's most memorable luxury brands started with the Coach (Re)Loved program -- a 2021 initiative to bring used bags and products into the Coach stable of offerings.

Over 20,000 Coach products were brought in-house and refurbished, although the company didn't say if those items were primarily just returns or how much time had passed since their purchase and their return.

What's remarkable is how much Coach knows about its Coachtopia products. Strikingly the company can include the carbon emissions of each bag, accessory, or piece of ready-to-wear footwear sold through the Coachtopia line. That information is noticeably absent from the company's main website.

With Coachtopia products, the company has gone even further, tagging each bag, wallet, footwear and ready- to-wear product with a unique digital passport—accessed via an embedded NFC chip—that gives customers transparency into its materials, its design and impacts.

Coach laid out some of the standards for its Coachtopia products, which include the use of a percentage of up-crafted leather, made from the company's production waste; "Coachtopia leather", made with at least 50% recycled leather scraps from tanneries; and 70% recycled resin, which is made with recycled plastic waste for bag handles.

Coach actually broke down the inputs. The leather linings of Coachtopia bags are made with at least 50% recycled leather scraps. The thread used to stitch them is 100% recycled polyester. The plastic hardware in bags and small accessories is made from at least 70% recycled resin.

The company's ready-to-wear is crafted in 95%+ recycled cotton or repurposed denim deadstock. Even the labels inside each product are 100% recycled polyester or nylon.

Additionally, Coachtopia's at least 75% recycled packaging has been designed to be multi-functional to reduce material use and is printed with renewable algae ink.

"As a sustainability consultant and designer I've been bringing my voice and expertise to Coachtopia. They are collaborating with us, with the next generation of artists, activists and designers. Coachtopia has created a unique community of like-minded people in the sustainability and fashion spaces," said Maya Penn.

The 23 year-old climate activist, sustainable fashion designer and artist and Coachtopia Beta Community member is one of a handful of celebrities from social media, entertainment, media, and retail tapped to launch the new Coachtopia campaign.

Other members include Aditi Mayer, a climate activist and advocate; Caulin Donaldson, a social media celebrity who works under the handle "Trash Caulin"; Lola Tung, an actress; and Natalia Spotts, the owner of a New York-based second-hand and vintage boutique.

"We want to be part of the conversation because we see what the world will be like if we don't make change," says Sophie Lowery, a 20 year-old film student and member of the Coachtopia community.


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