Fast fashion is subject to various criticisms as of late due to the amount of pollution it produces. The overproduction of clothing has contributed to numerous instances such as there being more weight in plastic than fish in the ocean, needing 2700 liters of water to produce a single t-shirt, and 70% of UK cast off are sent off to different countries overseas. Because of these horrifying statistics, there has been a push for companies to do better in their production lines. Many consumers have started to care a lot more about the environment and companies have started to take notice and change their current methods. Popular initiatives include introducing recycled clothing lines and switching out plastic packaging to a more biodegradable material or reducing overall packaging. Fast fashion has been taking action in its environmental efforts, but what about the luxury fashion sector? Luxury fashion are the trendsetters for the fashion industry so it would be no surprise if they are the ones going above and beyond compared to regular fast fashion brands. One recent example of a brand going above and beyond is Coach with the launch of its very first sub-brand, Coachtopia.
Coach is a leather goods company that was founded in 1941. It is known for the quality and craftsmanship of its various goods. While Coach has a long history, it was not until 2021 that it buckled down on establishing sustainable action through the introduction of the Coach Reloved Program. This program allows customers to bring in their old used Coach bags and trade them in for credit. From there, Coach can either restore it and sell it as a vintage item or remake and upcycle it to an entirely new product. This reduces the amount of waste in the landfill as the old preloved bags are being used for something new. This program came about from a viral video of a woman dumpster diving who found slashed-up Coach bags. This sparked public outrage as many found it wasteful that these products were purposefully slashed by Coach employees as a protocol for unsalable bags. The directors at Coach saw this feedback and wanted to do better by launching the Reloved Program. This program was just the start of the company’s sustainability initiatives.
On Thursday, April 20th, Coach launched a Coachtopia pop-up at Selfridges as part of their zero waste strategy. Coachtopia is similar to the Reloved program in which that it uses used materials to create new products. These used materials come from the manufacturing companies that make the Coach products. Coach wanted to close its linear production loop and transition itself to become involved in circular fashion. By using materials like leather offcuts that would have otherwise been sent to landfill, the overall production of waste would lessen as it would go back into the production stage and avoid raw materials. One important feature on all Coachtopia products is the NFC chip, which is a digital passport that informs those who scan it of the product details and each life the product has lived. By tracking the product lifecycles, the community can see how the used material is transformed into something new instead of seeing it in a landfill, therefore further promoting circularity. The name comes from “Coach” and “utopia” as the brand envisioned its sub-brand to help progress the world into a better place through circular fashion.
This is a revolutionary process as no other luxury leather goods brand has attempted this type of circular production before. Luxury fashion in general has the power to influence. By being the first in the sphere, it can influence and pressure other luxury brands to follow suit based on its initial success. Once other luxury brands have their own version of circular production, there can be a top down chain reaction in more accessible retail brands like those in fast fashion. Coach understands its position and power to be able to change the industry as it can afford to take the risk of introducing a completely new process to produce products. Taking a risk for what it believes in is one of its values as a company so it is no surprise that they “have the courage to be real” and change the industry for the better. The Coachtopia pop-up in Selfridges runs until the weekend of May 20th. For those in London, take this opportunity to visit and learn more about the story and see if the community is worth joining.