COACH vs. COACH Factory Store Outlet: One Brand, Two Separate Businesses
June 22, 2010 ‐ 184 comments
n.b. On April 23, 2012 we updated certain outdated statistics and dead links contained in the original version of this article. For nearly 70 years, Coach (NYSE: COH) leatherware has been associated with "classic American style," offering handbags (representing over half of overall sales), luggage, accessories, fobs and other knickknacks.  A dominant player in the "affordable luxury" handbag category, Coach pursues a bifurcated strategy of operating "full price" and "factory" stores in different markets -- but both under a single Coach masterbrand.  Although the items may appear to be the same design and quality to ill-informed consumers, they really are two separate businesses, as BrandCultureTalk recently found out to our chagrin. According to a Coach earnings release, the company operates 350 retail stores and 157 factory stores worldwide.  At one time fashion brands used factory stores or outlets to move excess merchandise from their regular stores.  Not so now.  Today, most of the offerings found at factory stores are made specifically for sale at outlets, including 80% of Coach's "factory" inventory.  The more merchandise Coach makes specifically for the factory stores, the less regular merchandise it liquidates, leading to "significantly higher profitability." The problem comes when people think they are dealing with a single near-luxury Coach brand. Some retailers deliberately maintain separate brands for their outlet stores like Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off Fifth, Neiman Marcus Last Call, to help keep brand experience expectations in check.  For example, Nordstrom Rack offers customers a 30 day return policy that is certainly reasonable, but a far cry from the legendary leniency of the flagship Nordstrom return policy.  Others clearly delineate merchandise specifically manufactured for and sold only in outlets.  Brooks Brothers sells a separate "346" line at a lower price (and some say significantly lower quality) specifically for its outlets, a common practice among retailers including  Ann Taylor Factory, Banana Republic, Gymboree and many others. Coach, however, deliberately encourages conflation between full price and factory.  On a recent business trip, we had some time to kill before a flight and popped into the Coach factory store in Loveland, Colorado.  Seeing what looked like a "real" Coach design, logo, tags, etc., we picked up a bag.  Andrea Shaw Resnick, Coach's Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications acknowledges that the Coach factory stores sell different merchandise but with the same excellent Coach quality at an "affordable luxury price."  Well, maybe not. Two weeks or so after our bag was put into use the, "turnlock" fell off.  Not a big deal, but certainly a defect that interfered with the essential function of closing the bag. We trotted over a short hop from BrandCulture HQ to Coach's Century City outpost where we encountered Brianna and explained the failure.  Brianna knew at a glance that we had a "factory bag" and explained that we were in a "full price" store where such a bag "would never be sold."  To further amplify the point, she pointed out the Coach equivalent of the Scarlet Letter, a tell-tale "FS" in the serial number designating "factory style." Accordingly, she would not be able to exchange the bag or issue a refund -- even though we presented our original sales receipt.  Brianna did say we could ship our factory bag to Jacksonville Florida (at our expense) where a team of experts would determine within 4 to 6 weeks whether or not the bag could be repaired. Just when this rigmarole seemed a bit much for a brand new defective bag, Brianna invited us to take a trip from Century City to the Coach factory stores in Camarillo (47.6 miles) or Barstow (126 miles) for a refund.  Returning an item to a Coach factory store is inconvenient . . . by design.  Normally Coach endeavors to locate its factory stores at least 60 miles or an hour's drive away from the full-priced outlets.  One Coach brand, but two different businesses and very different brand behavior. Full price Coach never has mass-market sales (although it does sometimes mail out targeted offers to preferred customers -- see Comment 29 below).  Factory Coach always has sales, sales and more % off sales! Why does Coach do this?  We're confident that Coach has reams of psychographic, demographic, market segmentation and focus group data -- bolstered by the 40,000 customer interviews the company purportedly conducts each year -- that show that the bargain-crazed, coupon-addicted factory store customers and the upscale full price shoppers are distinct cohorts and never the twain will meet.  Evidently Coach believes this is a representative factory store shopper: . . .  and here are "full price" shoppers: Conventional wisdom and even outside experts agree, including Kit Yarrow of Golden Gate University, "Outlet shoppers are less fashion forward and more interested in saving money." Outside of hard-core outlet shoppers, we suspect this is largely a load of piffle, and the reality is that sometimes people find themselves in factory store settings and sometimes not, and migrate freely between the two retail worlds.  But we're even more confident that from a brand perspective this operating methodology moves more merchandise, but puts Coach and its brand on thin ice. This is a dilemma of Coach's own making, as the company sets a high bar for itself in its Mission Statement.  In addition to asserting that its brand "represents a unique synthesis of magic and logic that stands for quality, authenticity, value and a truly aspirational, distinctive American style," Coach borrows a play out of the Lexus Covenant, in asserting that all Coach customers will be treated "like guests in our own home."  You don't see Toyota promising this for Camry and Scion owners.  In reality, the standards of hospitality among Coach's 15,000 employees evidently differ considerably for factory store guests vs. those of the full price stores. Coach makes bags and accessories -- $4.16 billion of them in 2011.  But its business is its brand.  That's what enables Coach to earn a gross margin that is not only among the very highest in the industry, but one that frequently approaches and even surpasses 75% (consider that when making your next Coach impulse purchase).  With margins like these, Coach should consider investing a few bucks in a seamless brand experience to mollify factory-shopping slack-jawed bumpkins such as ourselves who inadvertently stumble into a "real" Coach store.  Alternatively, instead of promising a common standard of quality and courtesy across its portfolio, create a more deliberate and explicit brand architecture with a "Coach Lite" brand (like Nordstrom Rack) where shoppers can still have the signature Coach C's on their arms without quite the same expectation of quality or of a luxury brand treatment.  Either way, with an asset as valuable as the Coach brand, we suggest that Coach take care not to stretch the elasticity of its storied brand past the point of fracture. In the meantime, if you're heading out to Barstow will you swing by and pick up our broken Coach bag?
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September 20, 2013 5:30 am
[...] the same time, and as you can read about in depth here, Coach operates its Coach Factory [...]
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September 11, 2013 7:18 pm
[...] relevant) google: Coach vs Coach factory and open the first article I'll try to post the link COACH vs. COACH Factory Store Outlet: One Brand, Two Separate Businesses | b+c | Branding, Marketing... Reply With [...]
Super Shopper
September 2, 2013 1:28 pm
Hello, What I want to say is that this "certain people shop here or there" is BS. I love Coach. I have purchased from both the retail store and the factory store. Does it matter to me, no. I live in a very rural area, if I am headed out on vacation and the factory store is closer, then I go to the factory store, if the retail store is closer, I go to the retail store. I am not a Barbie type, and my accessories are my fashion because being well endowed immensely limits my fashion choices. When I purchase a bag, wallet, jewelry or anything else, I purchase items that I like, not always items that are considered in. I like what I like, and that is the end of it. If I don't see what I like in the retail store, but I see what I like in the factory store, the factory store will get my business and vice versa. If I do not see anything I like in either store, then I will go elsewhere all together. I am not opposed to thrift store shopping, (I have found some great authentic bags in a few), nor am I opposed to paying full price, as long as I know what I am getting. The best thing is to love your purchases regardless of purchase price or location of the purchase.
August 29, 2013 9:14 am
Girls, read before buying anything online. Im not sure is it official or not, but it looks good :)
August 14, 2013 4:18 am
Be careful with Coach outlet. Read their information website before at
August 8, 2013 6:41 am
I always shop @ the Coach store but I never stepped foot in a Coach outlet until yesterday. Reason for me going to the outlet is because our budget is a little tighter because we're getting married next month. After doing some serious research I discovered that you need to follow this step to get what the retailers sell,look for the price tag with the ( horse & carriage on it ). You'll probably need to ask a sales girl, the reason is because the purses in the factory store that have a tag with only the coach name on it are made specifically for the factory store & will never make it into the retail market because the quality is not there. The bags with the Coach name plus the horse & carriage on the price tags are the bags that the full price retail stores had but the seasons had changed so they moved them over to the factory store in order to move inventory. I bought myself the medium leather tote that retails @ the main Coach store for $298 & I bought it @ the factory for &150, plus I bought a silk scarf that ties on the tote for $14 , which it retails for $48. If you want the real deal ask the sales person for the bags with the horse & carriage price tags & with that they'll know that you're looking for the real deal!!!!
Chi Love
June 16, 2013 7:00 pm
Whoever wrote this article is a moron. I buy Coach bags from the Coach Factory and Coach and they are exactly the same. Coach first sells the bags in their regular stores and after a few weeks they move them to Coach Factory. Same purse same quality product. This is coming from someone who only buys Coach and has been doing so for over ten years.
May 13, 2013 2:59 am
Now i understand the difference, but can anyone advice me whether i should buy outlet bags??? I found lots of website that they said they offer bags. I am a student n i cannot afford retal price, but i would go for brand new n real coach for outlet prices. If u wish to help me please sent me a reliable website name. Thanks
Peterson Cos/Tanger announce development of new Outlet Center - Calvert County, Charles County, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County - Page 2 - City-Data Forum
April 17, 2013 6:14 pm
[...] of season Coach gear, but the majority are now products made exclusively for that outlet store. COACH vs. COACH Factory Store Outlet: One Brand, Two Separate Businesses | b+c So if you think that Versace bag you bought for still an insane amount of money for a carrying box [...]
April 10, 2013 3:36 am
If you are willing to buy any Coach protucts online, be sure to read this blog first. It might save you lots of time and money
January 21, 2013 1:51 pm
I had figured that much. At first I thought Coach did this to squeeze the copycats by creating similar second rate goods and slapping their brand name on it but the subtle 'deception' is becoming apparent. For a luxury/status brand, they are slowly but surely diluting their brand equity. I find myself less and less inclined to carry my Coach bags. I'm more attracted to other other luxury brands like LV that still have integrity. With that said, this strategy is certainly working for Coach. I have been in their Factory stores over the years and the lines in the store are still really long. I bet those buying the factory brand are not fully aware that they are getting watered down goods even though it seems obvious to me and I guess many that the quality is going down each time. Coach might eventually self destructs if they are no careful.
Scott Thelen
January 19, 2013 1:37 am
Damn! You people are really narrow minded! Does it matter where you buy it from?.. It's like buying a new Cadillac isn't it?.. Do you want the $37,000 base model or the $55,000 luxury model!.. Keep in mind these $100-$500 hand bags cost about $35.00 to make. If someone is rich enough to pay $500 good for Coach, and if someone is smart enough to pay $100 still good for Coach! They are a business.... I'm probably guessing the Coach outlets bring in a majority of their gross revenue. Coach is Coach!
A Fan
December 27, 2012 9:21 pm
After all, What's in a name? How do we know that the rich are carrying what we consider a real bag? just because rich people carry nice bags, we want them. It's called "Advertising". They give rich people to carry bags, as soon as you see Beyonce, Rihanna or any other rich person carrying a bag we want it. You know what make the bag so Expensive, the people who was carrying it, the rich!!!
December 24, 2012 8:34 pm
Hi. I work for coach outlets and we do have an online presence. But it is exclusive, you have to be invited... it is not open to everyone one. Please do not tell people it is fake because you were not on the approved list. Thank you.
December 18, 2012 3:23 am
Reading this has been informative. I didn't know there were so many shallow and gullible people im The world!!
Vonnie J
December 8, 2012 10:47 am
I am sad to see but not surprised that most of the people responding to this article have been sucked in by brand names. If you like the bag and it is durable that is what should matter, not that it is not the "full price" Coach item. If the same bag that you now feel you were duped into purchasing were at the full price store and you paid 5X the price for it would you really feel better about it. I have 4 or 5 bags that I bought from the outlet stores (until now I did not know there was a difference) I have had them for years and they have served me well. I am not easy on them and they still look great. Stop worrying about what things cost or the label and enjoy the purse that you loved until you read this article. As to the customer service, the store that I go to in Kittery, ME is exemplary. I get attention as soon as I walk in the door and they are always showing me the latest styles and what is on sale
ML Saggs
December 7, 2012 9:35 am
Do you know how stupid you people sound? Get a's a freakin' bag. You are not picking out a house or car or your future husband. OMG, If you friends judge you on where you buy your purse, outlet or flagship store then you need new friends. If you are the one judging, then you need to get a real life and your friends need to get a new friend...
December 4, 2012 9:11 am
Hello, I own 18 Coach bags from the Retail Stores and Factory outlet stores. The outlet bags that I own were originally in the retail stores. I know this because I shop the retail stores on a monthly basis. When I find a bag that I want I wait about 3-6 months then visit the outlet store where I find the bag at a significant savings. There are usually only three to four bags in the outlet store that was originally in the retail store. I have been able to do this on 7 separate occasions. I will only by all leather bags not the fabric bags that you see in the outlet stores. So don’t feel bad if you bought a bag at the outlet. Some were made for the outlet and some of the higher quality all leather bags were made for the retail stores.
December 1, 2012 8:43 pm
Honestly Coach is killing themselves with the dual identity. One day one of them would have to give. Honestly the "Snookie" type does go to the outlet instead of the regular store. Then again I'm just not a fan of outlet shopping, it seems so cheap and beneath me.
December 1, 2012 7:10 pm
I own about 8 purses from outlet,they are just great,awesome quality,stylish,i think coach is very nice,to think about people that can not afford the full price,but this one. They're also very lasting,the first one i bought was on 2003 and still looks very nice. Please people don't make this article stoping you to get a nice purse.
November 28, 2012 12:24 pm
OK ladies and gentlemen, My daughter bought a full price leather coach for $500 and some odd dollars. It was stolen in a car break in, and everything recovered a short distance from the car except the purse. Someone really wanted that purse, leaving credit cards and ID behind. She was a broken hearted college student that could not afford to replace her beloved purse. But wait. She found the exact same purse nine months later at the factory outlet. No difference, as she loved the original and would have quickly spotted the differences. She paid $180 at the outlet. I have both the full price purses, and ones from the factory outlets. The Madison collection, Juliette style that the factory stores have right now are fantastic, the styles and colors have become some of my favorites. More so than the full price styles at the moment. They are still serial numbered Coach bags, and I have never had any issues with the quality. If I love the handbag, I will buy it regardless of which retailer it comes from. Don't let the article dissuade you from buying what you like, where you like, for what you can afford.
November 27, 2012 6:04 pm
Ok Coach shoppers, here is the deal. Outlet/ full price bags are both " real" nothing sold in a factory store is fake. Most factory bags are inspired by styles that were once carried in a full price store. The bags are of the same quality made in the same factories. Yes, full price bags are sent to outlet stores when they do not sell. Service standards are the same, sometimes you will find friendlier associates in factory, but they are all trained the same way. Return policy is not friendly, you can get a refund on a full price bag in factory, but you can't get a refund on a factory bag in full price? Full price associates do not go out of thier way to take care of a factory customer, but a factory employee will always take care of your concerns. Have you tried getting youth money back at a full price store on a full price bag? I have they sent me to an outlet because they had no cash! Outlet is great, don't be fooled!
November 25, 2012 3:13 pm
I have a great experience with the Coach outlet store. I am grateful they offer such a terrific product to those of us who can not afford or just don't want to spend $400-$1200 for a bag. ALL of the retailers I know of, who also have outlet stores, require you to return outlet merchandise to an outlet store. And I would be surprised if the regular Coach store did not ever have a faulty piece show up in all it's history in sales. I have found the merchandise I've bought at the outlet to be of an exceptional quality and encourage all of you to enjoy the pleasure that comes from owning a Coach bag - outlet or not!
November 23, 2012 9:16 pm
I am an avid coach shopper, both boutique and factory, as I have both within one hour of where I live. Coach Factory stores carry both factory bags and retail bags. Factory bags are usually designated with an F, FS or sometimes E in the serial number. The Factory stores also keep all of the bags that came form the boutique stores in one section, the 'retail' section. I am now friends with quite a few of the employees at my local factory store who long ago pointed these things out to me. If you want a 'retail' coach bag, just nicely ask an employee at the factory store where their 'retail' section is and I'm sure they will happily point you that way.
COACH vs. COACH :一个牌子,两个独立的企业? « 海淘|网购|优惠码|超级苹果网
November 22, 2012 11:00 am
[...] ... oach-factory-store/ [...]
November 18, 2012 7:15 am
Niki's comment on Dec 8th is exactly correct. I only carry Coach bags and Ive been carrying them for years and I shop at both full price stores and the factories and never had issues with any of the bags. And the Coach full price store WILL accept factory store bags with receipt for a merchandise credit only and thats a fact it even says so on the back of your receipt....that Coach rep that told you no needs to learn her job you shouldve turned the receipt around and read her the return policies cause clearly she needs a refresher. And the factory does sell mostly bags that were made for the Coach outlet only but you will find bags there marked down thay were sent from the actual full price stores that are discontinued styles because Coach constantly changes styles and once a bag is considered an older style it will get sent to an outlet. And to be honest ive had better customer service at the factory than at the full price stores cause from some reason alot of full price store reps are stuck up...get over yourself you sell Coach not Louis Vuittons. And to use Snookie as a representation of people who carry outlet bags compared to jessica alba who carrys full price Coachs was a snobby remark.
November 18, 2012 7:07 am
I love this article! A friend of mine is a label a holic and I've tried to explain the details about outlets to her, but she doesn't listen or care. She has told me she doesn't care about quality, which to me is insane. I remember the old Coach's from the 60's thru the 90s and the quality was amazing, as was their customer service! The old school leather wears well and the company used to offer a fabulous repair service! I still have an old sidepack and love it- I have to confess I hate the new fangled bags with all the logo crap. To me they scream, Hey Look, I am carrying a Coach. Who cares! The quality has gone down since they are made overseas and the company is a shadow of its origins.
Elizabeth Weinberger
November 13, 2012 6:17 pm
I just lost my respect for the Coach brand. I bought a bag that I assumed was high quality only to find out that it is not what I thought it was. Bad business practices-- this will get around to everyone sooner or later.
November 12, 2012 9:22 pm
i just read about why you are only limited on quantities to purchase at a time, the reason is because there is people (porters) that come in and purchase 10 bags in this style/color, and that style in that color, and pay a small amount, and then turn around and re-sale them for a higher, or tagged price, another thing is they make "fake" bags and wallets. Its company policy to only sell so many items at a time due to counterfit reasons. On another note, Coach's name is on the line and with people thinking that its not of "retail" quality, it very much so is of COACH quality, just at a lower price.
November 10, 2012 5:43 pm
I think it's just stuff that is technically real but have defects either very small to the eye or completely noticeable.
November 7, 2012 11:10 pm
What about stores like Ross or Marshalls? Is that stuff real or factory made? Anyone know?
November 2, 2012 8:31 am
I'm 29,and I'm not shall you say"fashionable" but I do dress nicely. I've always known that Coach has had two different stores. I currently own 14 coach bags six are from "real" coach stores and the other eight are from "outlet"stores. About six months ago when I went into an outlet store, I had a coach bag on that was from a "real" coach store. the woman waiting on us said to my husband " wow that's a nice bag, I know that it is not a outlet bag. The workers know all of the styles and which kind of store you bought it. Which to me it's all coach and I really don't care where or how much I paid for it. Only thing I care about is if I like it or not. I don't think it's right that people get judged for what kind of bag they have, especially with the economy and the way it is and how majority of people don't even have jobs nor do they have food for their children to eat. I love my bags no matter what! Now when it comes to perfume, that is my forte!!!
October 31, 2012 12:29 pm
Ok. So now everyone knows about Coach vs Coach Factory Outlet w.e. so what if this topic never came up... You would probably be extremely happy with your purchase, right? So you been fooled, what now? To be honest, I'm sure you fooled others as well. I've purchase full price for my coach bag, & I've purchased them from outlets I'm still happy with my purchase. I take good care of them, I haven't had any quality issues. I resell them or hand them down. Don't let this topic get you down. Anyhow great topic. For those who didn't know.
October 24, 2012 10:12 pm
Living in the Miami/Ft Lauderdale area there are many Coach stores here and having shopped at both their retail and outlet stores I can say that I've never had a quality issue. Any time I've had to return or exchange something it was because I wanted a different color or size and I've never had an issue with customer service or policies at either store types. I will admit that there is a chance that the "quality" of the factory items are questionable- but you can tell that from across the room while the item is still on the rack/shelf. If YOU think something looks cheesy or flimsy, would you expect OTHERS to think it looks elegant and sturdy? No. So you do have to have some common sense. As others have mentioned before, Coach is like any other company that sells high end products. They are in business to make money and excluding a demographic that can't readily afford to purchase their products with the quarterly changes in fashion is bad business sense. If they can make products of similar quality without the "bells and whistles" and sell them for much cheaper so they can include a much larger consumer base is a win-win situation (they make money and average joe can be fashionable). Personally I appreciate being able to shop at both stores. I'm not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination but I can assure you that even the richest people in the world have their "comfy/ house" clothes in the closet along with their "elegant/ outing" clothes. Likewise, I have my nice set (wallet, cufflinks, etc) for going out or special occasions that I bought at the retail store and outlet stuff for everyday use. Naturally because it's easier to replace a $50 wallet than a $300 one- let's face it with everyday use both are likely to wear out around the same time anyway lol. When buying gifts for friends they would be super happy to get anything Coach even from the outlet. Why? Because your friends know there are a million other things you could get them and they understand if you're not using c-notes as toilet paper lol. Now the only time I would never consider buying something from a Coach factory/outlet store is when buying a gift for family. Story time: My grandmother grew up during the Great Depression and has always been careful with money. To her a special "elegant/ outing" purse would cost MAYBE $45 and she would treat it like gold. For her 75th birthday I went to a Coach retail store, $800 later she had a fancy wallet and matching purse and not a single woman at the party failed to compliment her on them. Of course I got yelled at a few days after, she apparently almost passed out at the retail store when asking someone about how to keep it clean and they jokingly said "... you wouldn't want to ruin your new $600 purse...". Since then the running joke is that she would carry around her purse inside a bigger purse that cost $5 so she doesn't dirty the Coach one hahaha!
October 10, 2012 1:31 am
I buy my girlfriend and daughter Coach Factory all the time. I have had one quality issue with a backback for my daughter and they replaced it on the spot without a receipt. I even have purchased myself a Coach backpack and Coach messenger bag for myself at the Coach Factory for Men. Who really cares if it is from a factory store. I get better quality than many other brands at a lower price and without going to an Asian flea market to get a better price. Also consider there is a wall of bags that aren't factory. These are still heavily discounted and are still the premium line.
October 7, 2012 6:59 pm
I always knew there was something "different" about the Coach purchases I made at the "factory" stores and did some research and found out the information that is well explained in this article. I actually asked a store associate for a dust bag for a purse I was purchasing as that is how you keep your "nice" bags, well...nice. She explained that factory bags do not come with dustbags and pointed to a small selection of bags towards a back wall that did. Did she elaborate on what the difference was with the bags on the back wall? Of course not, but I read between the lines, put that bag back and went to the back wall. To my surprise the prices were outrageous and the bags were all scratched or damaged in some way. Those were the "real" Coach bags that were probably the overstock or older designs sent from full price retail Coach stores. The factory Coach products are not by any means across the board worse quality, but you do get what you pay for. I like to change my purses depending on the weather (rainy/snowy days always change to a leather or nylon etc) and don't mind paying less to still have the Coach "look". At the end of the day only a person that knows the Coach brand very well will know if you have a factory bag or not. If you stay with classic looks that are simple, it's not easy to tell if it's a factory bag or not. Shop wisely! to each her own :)
October 7, 2012 5:39 pm
P.S. I went to my local Dillards prior to going to the outlet and found an empty bin of 25 percent off bags. I went to look for the new bags and found nothing that I could live without. Then went to outlet mall and found VIBRANT, TRENDY, FUNCTIONAL bags!!! I think you are VERY SMART in the two markets you have here with COACH... I will still go to Dillards and check the sales but truthfully, this fun little fall bag I bought today at outlet is the bomb!! Not all of us can buy a 400 dollar bag every six months when the fashion changes so this is a GREAT
October 7, 2012 4:50 pm
I have owned 2 Coach handbags , one as a gift which came at Christmas and one I purchased for 25 percent off at a department store. Today I wanted something new and for the fall and went to the outlet.. Coach is Coach,, the quality of all my bags have been great, I have a second outlet bag that is just fine.. Its about FASHION FORWARD... And I love the colors and updates.. I wouldn't ever wear the first one I got in 20002. It is outdated in style.. But it still hangs around in my house and I still pay homage to it... STYLE.....
September 30, 2012 6:40 pm
It all makes sense now! I bought a "Coach" bag from their factory outlet on Ebay. I thought I was getting a great deal, but when it arrived the leather was cheap and stiff and the zipper was also cheap. It looked and felt like a knock off. I was going to exchange it, but now I think I'll just get my money back!! Thanks so much for the informative article!
September 28, 2012 10:32 pm
I came across this post because eBay sent me a promotional e-mail for the Coach Factory's sale on eBay and I was hesitant as to the authenticity...I'm not discouraged from buying a factory store bag now, but I'm glad to know there is a difference. BTW, I work at Macy's. If you really want a genuine Coach bag without paying full price, most department stores have sales AND coupons. I just bought a $298 bag for $125, because there was a 3-day 25% sale on all Coach bags (even the new fall line), plus an extra 20% off when you used your Macy's card and I had another coupon. This doesn't even include my emp. discount. But I'm just saying, I have about 7 bags and have never paid over $100 for any. There's nothing wrong with wanting a bargain.
September 27, 2012 6:32 pm
I live in a city where the FP and Factory stores are within 1 mile distance and It didn't take more than 2 visits to the outlet to realize those bags were not "last season", there's no way a brand can have that amount of merchandise to liquidate. Their sales are bogus because they raise the prices when they offer coupons, so the price stays the same. The only good thing is that they still have bags transferred directly from the full price store and over 50% off their retail price, it's not that hard to identify them because they look a lot better and are pricier. On those you do get a great deal!
September 25, 2012 9:15 am
You really can tell the difference between the two. I use to think the Factory stores were older bags until i started paying attention to the full price sites and noticed they never had any of those bags. With the full price you get what you pay for, a nicer quality bag, more details, and indivdual attiontion from the sales associates. Full Price over Factory any day! Let me not get started on the noticable quality difference between Coach full price coats/jackets to cheap factory ones.
September 7, 2012 12:46 pm
My 'real' Coach bag fell apart immediately and they won't repair it. My factory bags are years old with not a scratch anywhere. In the factory store, there are some items that don't feel real. Mine felt like quality, and they are.
September 7, 2012 8:48 am
Your article just helped me realize what a fake bag I just bought with the satisfaction of buying a real one.
Anne Marie
September 5, 2012 11:36 am
This is why you are what is wrong with America, do they look as nice as the one's in the boutique, are they real leather, are they made by Coach, then who the [heck] cares if it is factory verses not. I have 3 factory bags, some vintage bags off eBay, one bag from eBay that I am not sure the year it was made, but I think it is factory too, plus my mom has had Coach for years, The only differences. I have notice no difference, vintage bags are the best quality because they are the thickest leather. No new Coach bags are as thick as the old one's factory or boutique.Also I don't think any are made in the USA anymore. However the leather for both the boutique and factory is just as nice and strong. The quality is just as good and the bags hold up just as well. I have only ever had two problems with my coach bags, one is the zipper fabric is ripping, which in common with any purse specially if you over stuff it and on one of my bags I lost the little leather pull for the outside pocket. That is it. They will get scuffed if you use them everyday and will break down to to wear and tear, but coach is always willing to help fix a bag, even one found on the side of the road. (my dad found one once, sent it in and they fixed and returned it.) As for courteous help, that depends on the store and person, I went into one store once where they helped me a lot, went back to the same store and they were rude to my boyfriend. So basically what I am saying is your article is stupid and people who care about a bag being from the boutique vs. factory store are stuck up snobs and are the problem with this country. if you like it who cares where it came from.
September 2, 2012 10:45 am
I'm just wondering about the pricing of the "made for factory" bags. They list a MSRP price and then do a pricing reduction off that price. It is misleading for the consumer (assumption being that the bag was actually sold for this price at the retail store). Isn't this fraud??
August 31, 2012 12:13 pm
One way to tell the difference between some bags from the boutique and the factory outlet is if it has a metal Coach logo attached to the bag has the horse and coach it's boutique, just Coach as a word is factory outlet. You can't compare the leather from the outlet to the boutique. The outlet leather, most of the time, seems more like pleather or vinyl, while the boutique leather is buttery and supple. Some of the factory bags are pretty and I wish Coach would put some leather at the bottom so a mostly fabric bag won't get dirty when you put it down. I've seen some pretty dirty cloth Coach bags and they're nasty. I asked the salesperson at the outlet how often they get boutique merchandise and they said not very often and it's not usually many pieces. As long as customers know the outlet bags are not really discounted since they're cheaper made bags then they know they're really just buying the logo more than anything, but at least Coach will repair outlet bags like the boutique bags.
August 27, 2012 10:38 am
I used to buy Coach decades ago when the factory outlets didn't exist and their bags were top quality leather products. Over the years they changed their product style to be more flashy and less about fine leather. I started to buy Dooney & Bourke bags, which oddly enough, used to be the flashy ones! The quality was just better. I just recently started looking at Coach because of their Legacy Collection. I also just ordered a bunch of bags from an online factory outlet sale (which they have almost daily!) since a friend got me on their mailing list. Sorry, but those bags are not good quality Coach at all. Most are cloth, with little leather. Even the ones I got that were all leather were of poor quality leather. I was going to keep a tote bag but I quickly realized the construction of the bag was suspect. It has a large outer pocket, but under the pocket it is just lining. A good quality bag would be all leather with a leather pocket added on, not lining against lining between the main bag and the pocket. With all the "discounts", it was around $130. Honestly, it's not worth that much based on construction and materials. There is no way they could sell it for the "original ticket price." The factory stores are selling their own line, which is much inferior in quality to the boutique line. If you like it and you don't mind that it won't last as long, then that's ok. Just understand you're never getting the top quality bag you'd get at the boutique store and what you're paying is not really a bargain because of the quality. I personally never liked that Coach went downscale because it cheapens the whole line and turns off customers like me who prefer quality over quantity. I might buy a Legacy bag for about $400, because I know it'll last me for over a decade. Something keeps stopping me and I think it's the whole way Coach is doing business now. Coach sold out to be profitable and decided to slap its logo on anything and everything and now that logo means a lot less. I don't equate Coach with quality high end bags anymore. I see it as cheap logo cloth bags being sold in bulk with fake discounts.
Kathleen Roper
August 23, 2012 9:31 am
I purchased a bag from the Coach Factory Store in San Marcos, TX. When I discovered a problem with the lining I took it to a real Coach store in an Austin mall. They were very nice, took the bag and mailed it to Coach for repair at no charge. A couple of weeks later I received a nice letter stating they couldn't fix it and giving me credit for the full price of the bag, not the $100 I paid. I went to the factory store with that and purchased 2 bags, 2 wallets, a key chain and a belt and got $16 in change.
August 23, 2012 8:03 am really people? You thought you buying a "Coach" bag? YOU is still a Coach bag! I LOVE shopping the Coach outlet! I have been buying at the outlet for many years and have never had my product fall apart EVER! In fact in all cases and 10+ bags later i just give them away when i am done with them. I mostly have purchased orignal "Coach" bags that were not manufactured for the outlet, but i also have a few of those and they are great! Why on earth would you pay full price when you know that the styles if not the exact purse you were fondling in their retail store will be 50% off or more in just a few months?
August 22, 2012 12:55 am
I own coach handbags, and I simply think that weather or not the bag is from an outlet store or the actual boutique people are still spending their hard earned money! It'd be nicer if such a brand as coach would consider that at retail or factory price people are buying their brand thinking they bought a good quality product! I'm not rich and I'm not poor and it really angers me when snobby people assume,that because you purchased a bag at an outlet store you're paying for something of cheap quality. Well in that case coach itself is a CHEAP brand! There's nothing wrong with purchasing merchandise at a coach factory store after it had been for a month or three at a coach boutique, but once coach actually sells low quality and poor material products it's like buying a knock off! Hey! I'm not encouraging buying knock offs but isn't this what coach is creating here?!?!?... Come on now coach, live up to your "brand" and quality!
August 21, 2012 7:02 pm
I recently sent in to Coach for repairs a laptop/diaper bag that was given to me as a gift. The bag was purchased at a factory outlet store, and was of lower quality. After one yer of use the strap ripped completely off. Although I was very dissatisfied with the bag's lack if durability, I was very pleased with Coach's response. I was sent a gift card for more than $200 dollars more than what my husband paid for the bag, and the gift card can be used at either a factory outlet store or a regular retailer. Although the bargain my husband was looking for when he purchased the bag for me dud not work out,
Hulya Matbagon
August 21, 2012 8:38 am
A bit Impossible....i know a bunch of people are throwing trash especially with a good and high profile sales company to ruin their reputations. I dont have any Coach Bag but i still believed that If u buy it on their regular retail store or factory outlet the good quality was still there...Just and advice for the person who posted this...Go in some Asian Countries you could see soo much counterfeit branded bags. U will be surprise when u sees all those fake items anywheres. Those counterfeit items in Asian countries i still could say that it last long some couple months and the 2 weeks u said u used it the locked got bad? hmmmmm i dont think so...anyways it was ur bag so u the one knows the real thing happen......Go in some Asian Countries u could see how bad is counterfeiting with those Branded Items especially on bags and shoes.....
August 17, 2012 12:57 pm
Would appreciate if somebody can tell me where Coach bags from Boutiques are made from? do they also say: Manufactured in China? If it's made in China, does that mean it's factory quality, or both Retail and Factory are made from China? Would like to know pls... Have 2 Coach bags bought from an outlet, both have an "F" in the serial number. I have yet to check it's durability. Stitching is quite good. I see no flaw ( so far)...I value QUALITY... No matter if Boutique or Factory bought.
James W
August 15, 2012 9:16 pm
I have purchased several bags, wallets, passport holders, and duffle bags from the outlet and have been satisfied with all of my purchases and none of them have fallen apart or broken. I'm sure some well trained eyes can spot a factory bag but I have yet to have someone "call me out." Addtionally, the difference in the price between coach and the factory outlet isnt that much depending on the product you purchase. Add another $150 - $200 and you can buy Coach or take that money and buy another factory bag. I choose factory!
August 15, 2012 3:58 pm
This is the biggest load of crap article I've ever read. A lto fo the bags that are i the full price store go to the outlet after season is up. I've bought full price bags that within a month were in the outlet for more than half the price. Same quality, same bag. I've owned full price bags and I've owned outlet bags. Both lasted exactly the same time. I've returned outlet bags TO the coach store no problem. Sorry to see this bad of a misleading article on such a great brand..
August 13, 2012 10:17 am
So that I understand this correctly; if there is a "F" in the serial number then we were tricked into believing this was a "Coach" purse when it is truly a "Coach" factory purse? If that is the case, then Coach can kiss my shopping good bye. I bought 10 Coach purses last year, not all factory and I will never and I mean never shop for a Coach bag again. I don't mind getting a bag that didn't sell or even one that may have a little something wrong but to be sold a bag that I believed was of good quality and then it being factory quality, I way over spent; was tricked and it won't happen again. By the way, I am on the Preferred Customer List...but no more...nice little "unsubscribe" will take care of that.
August 10, 2012 4:18 pm
As an coach fan, there is nothing wrong with buying from the factory outlet store. It is real coach. Although I only purchase from full-price stores, I wouldn't have a problem with factory purchases. For me, the factory stuff isn't as pretty. Heck, even some of the full-price stuff isn't pretty. I am still choosy. My first purchase was at a full-price store. I had eyed a bag for some time when the associate offered to put me on the preferred customer list in order to get the discount to buy the $650 bag. I still own that bag and love it. I certainly appreciate the difference between regular coach and factory coach. It's the counterfeit stuff that is really troublesome!
August 9, 2012 9:23 am
I purchased a full price coach purse as my first coach purchase. I was very pleased with the quality of my full priced bag. Some co-workers were talking about the coach factory and all the awesome deals they had. So I became interested in the idea of getting a coach purse at a discount. While I was shopping I noticed immediately that the linings between the two purses was completely different and the factory bag was of a lesser quality. I also had thought that the factory purses looked slightly less hand made. I personally think the coach factory bags are machine made. The quality of fabrics is apparent too. I did however buy one as a gift for someone whom doesn't know the difference. After reading this article it just confirmed my suspicion that the factory bags were designed to be sold at a discount price.
are shopping outlets evil? real deal or no deal? | inherforties.aging ungracefully
August 6, 2012 12:43 pm
[...] After my post about Coach, a reader and acquaintance from one of my other journals, sent me this article: COACH vs. COACH Factory Store Outlet: One Brand, Two Separate Businesses [...]
August 3, 2012 12:38 pm
I was offered a refund at the Coach Factory store in Tanger Outlets, Atlantic City a few weeks ago actually
August 2, 2012 8:34 am
wow i too have fallen victim to this i just purchased a bag last week that i thought was authentic but noticed it felt to light to have real leather and still purchased it off of impulse.....I feel that this should be something known not something i have to research. The outlet should have a large sign that says (factory brand)or something to let concumers know its not the real "Coach" pure deception......this world we live in.
July 26, 2012 8:50 pm
Funny how everyone puts stuff on the internet. I don't think they would kill their brand like that but hey...everything is how you take care of it. If you know you put heavy wear on your purse then you may want to get one that is more expensive but I buy my wife purses from the factory or the coach store in the mall. I figure as long as they have a return policy and it is not an everyday purse then by the outlet purses. Who will know the difference other than you? I don't think someone is going to come up to you and ask to see your bag to check the serial number so enjoy and just remember you get what you pay for SOMETIMES.
July 23, 2012 9:48 pm
My eyes hurt from reading all the comments! But it was interesting! My first coach bag was from an outlet in 1999. It is the Janice Legacy crossbody and the leather is superthick! I have to check its serial number but this was a bag sold in stores all fo the time. Quality was better back then. Recently I bought a leather mini Carly and a leather plain tote. For about 100 each. I like them and where else can you get a leather bag for 100 dollar nowadays. Ladies, enjoy your bags and don't let others who pay more try to bring you down.
July 17, 2012 8:02 pm
this article is very true i just returned a purchase i made because of poor workmanship. The id holder i purchased started to come apart after just putting 1 credit card ,my id and a few dollars in it. I was totally disgusted and returned all the items i had purchased. I don't mind purchasing a factory item for less money but if you put your name on it (Coach) it should be of good quality. I will stick to purchasing coach items from stores like Macy's and Lord & Taylor when they have their sales.
July 9, 2012 3:47 am
Okay, I hear all of you. First I’d like to say, great article. I have had them all. Factory, Coach Store and those sold on Canal Street. Who cares? If you like a bag from Target, like it and wear it proudly. If you are shopping at an outlet mall or clearance rack, you know that you aren't getting the latest styles. It used to be called Manufacture defects or seconds or overstock. Now, companies realize that they make more money of you, so that's good business. If you are that stuck up to think you are better for paying $600 for a purse than the girl that gets one from the guy on the corner... you are what's wrong with the world. So do you think Bird's Eye vegetables tastes better than Store Brand? Not always, try slumming it sometime and take the challenge. We as consumers just want something nice that makes us feel special whether on a BMW or Kia budget. I just got a Signature back pack and wristlets from the Coach outlet... love it. But let's face it, nothing is made like it was 20 years ago whether it’s leather, cars, steel, or cotton t-shirts for that matter. But you still drive a car with Styrofoam under the bumper instead of rubber like my parents had.
July 7, 2012 8:34 am
reading through these comments make me laugh. For one, as an employee of coach I can guarantee that the products sold in the f stores are NOT low quality knockoffs of the "REAL" thing....... They ARE the real thing. As for service....... Your dealing with 'PEOPLE' not robots that are produced for sales. Ever think that the poor service is the doing of the associate and NOT coach? If an associate is not helpful and courteous they will have a short career at coach.... The company demands high standards of service from their employees as well as a high standard of quality from their products. We are not paid on commission! We are paid hourly to help our customers. ANYONE can write an article saying whatever they want. What amazes me are people that think because they read it, it must be true. If you want to pay twice as much for the same product just for the status of doing so, then by all means do! Me? I will buy from the factory stores!
June 27, 2012 11:57 pm
Well I have 3 which all have came from outlet and love all. The staff was very helpful and I always get people telling me how nice my coach is!
June 27, 2012 9:03 am
Ok well a few years ago I bought a Coach bag from a Coach store then later was introduced to the Factory store and seen the same purse there. Therefore I know for a fact that the purses do get sent to the factory stores in a few months. Factory store purses are freaking real people! Stop being babies!
June 25, 2012 9:08 am
I have always loved coach. Every bag I have is real, and bought from a coach store. I just started a new job and wanted to get myself a new purse and matching wallet, i saw some i liked at the store in the mall but a purse & the wallet would be over $400. My boyfriend told me not to spend that much on a purse since i always switch them up. Last week a lady at work called me over and in her e-mail she had a coupon from "Coach Factory" and it featured a very colorful purse that i really liked when i first saw it. The purse was $129, and the wallet was $60 so i said why not save myself half the money and get it. I called Coach and they said Coach factory is authetic and its the only outlet they deal with. So i bought the purse and the wallet and it should be here anyday now. But i was curious and looking stuff up online, and now it looks like they might be fake if you have a style number with an "F" in it, which mine does because i just got the confirmation that it shipped. I do not want a lower quality bag since i am used to new ones, i got it because i really like the colors and it was perfect for summer, but nope i hope it's not a peice of crap!! Ughh!!
June 7, 2012 5:29 pm
Well I think the ebay coach sale is misleading, i purchased the ashley crossbody not knowing this is a factory made bag-so you are not getting a great deal, i will return it. I have a boutique coach bag that has a strap that snapped after 1 years use, so even authentic is not great.
Kay Miller
June 2, 2012 11:08 am
I have a Coach purse and billfold that I purchased at the Coach Factory in Destin FL. I'd would like to reture them. What is your policy for returning? I live in Nebraska. Where is a Coach Factory near me. Thank you.
May 31, 2012 6:17 am
This article is only going to confuse many shoppers. I have been buying Coach for years, full price boutique and outlet. There is a slight different in the "made for factory" bags and you can tell one by the serial number. For example C1077-F15147 is a factory serial number, because of the F, on the second part of the number. Only if the second part has the F its a factory bag, a boutique bag will only have numbers. I have bought many "outlet" bags and they usually are slightly different than their boutique counterparts, for example the Sabrina bag and the Ashley bag. They are the same bag essentially, but the Ashley has a different logo. The linings usually are not as nice as the boutique bags. They are still quality and real leather, they are still held under Coach's warranty, and you can return them to Coach Factory stores for a refund, or the boutique for store credit. The outlet does sell "deletes" from the boutique as well. Bags thats are last season usually, sometimes returns, and you can find a great deal. Coach DOES have online factory sales. You have to use the links emailed to you by Coach, as these sales are invite only. There are a lot of fake Coach sites that say they are the Coach outlet, and use some real coach photos and logos. These are selling FAKE bags! BEWARE! Call Coach Customer service and ask them if you are on a real site. Coach also frequently sends cards or emails to frequent shoppers for 25% off, or $100 off a purchase of $300 or more in a boutique store, so they do have sales. Be happy whether you buy a bag from the outlet or factory. They are both nice and they are both quality bags! All my bags, even if they were originally from the boutique (which most are) are from an outlet. I have bought gorgeous bags at a discount and I couldn't be happier with them.
May 24, 2012 9:23 am
I have bought 4 bags and 3 wristlets in 6 years, all at a factory outlet store (2 different ones). None of my purchases have a serial number in it that has an 'F' inside. They started handing out 30%off coupons on your way into the store about 1-2 years ago. The associates always greet you, ask if they can help you find something and when given the details of your desired purchase they show you things that you may be interested in. When I have said I was still looking I they politely told me their name and to let them know when there was anything I need their help with. They were happy to make suggestions and just as happy to let me browse on my own when I only wanted to look. They continuously scanned the store to see when a client appeared to need assistance. This article may deter me from online purchasing but I will continue to get great service and purchases from the outlet for less cost. Maybe it's just the New Jersey hospitality!
May 9, 2012 10:34 am
I hope this comment helps. I am not a big Coach person. I’m more of a Dooney & Burke type of girl. My hubby got me a gray coach bag that I rarely use two Christmas’s ago, but I decided to give Coach another try. Plus hubby was purchasing it for me for Mother’s Day. I received my invite from coach factory, which I have been receiving for months now and have never made a purchase. I looked at all the bags and did some extensive research. I originally purchased a Soho bag and Soho wallet, but browsing some more, I saw this Madison bag, which I had just saw on website. My office mate gave me her 25% coupon, so I was browsing there as well. The bag from the factory mimics each other to the tee. The only difference was the color. The one I purchased from the factory was black, which was not the available color at the original coach. I am assuming because of summer colors it landed in the factory. I cancelled my first order and purchased the Madison bag from the factory. It was 40.00 more than the Soho bag, but that is cool. There are bags made strictly for the coach factory, but I don’t believe all of them are.
May 6, 2012 12:11 pm
I am never a fan of Coach and for the first time, I went to Macy's to check out Coach handbags after reading all the comments here (yes, one by one...). Frankly, I think Coach is over-priced and unless it is substantially discounted, not worth the purchase. Why would anyone think Coach is luxury brand is beyond me...
May 2, 2012 9:09 am
Ok, I've had my questions also but guess what?? I've shopped in both Coach store & the Coach Factory also shopped online for & Guess what? True some bags you can tell would never be sent to the Coach store to be sold but pls also be aware Coach store,, & do sell the same types of bags. My mom, aunts, and cousins are what I call Coach-snobs. They only carry real Coach. I've bought bags for my mom while comparing pricing in stores and online from both sites. I paid the lowest price for a good size scarf print satchel for my mom from but this same bag was also in the stores and on for more. I am a deal hunter but I also know quality so I think some people are just under cover snobs so they feel like doing "research" this way uncovered some "nasty truth"... WRONG. Say what you want I've done the research and I know FAKE and authentic. By the way yes I AM ASIAN say what you want but I do not by any means carry knock offs and hate when people who haven't checked all the facts try to blast someone or something.
May 1, 2012 1:24 pm
Is the outlet on ebay a fake outlet or like the other coach outlets?
April 27, 2012 6:30 pm
Like Laura, I received an invitation to the Coach Factory online sale. I was a little leery so I called Coach's 1-800 number, and they did indeed verify that this was an authentic Coach Factory website that you need to be invited to in order to purchase items. Since I was already on the phone with them, I placed an order for 3 items. I just received them today and am honestly very happy with my purchases. All of the items appear to be well made, stitching looks fantastic, and quality seems consistent with the bags I purchased in a Coach boutique store and the ones I bought at a Coach Factory outlet store. As for the difference in customer service, well, my personal experience was that the salesperson at the Coach boutique store in Wailea, Maui was rather rude and snotty and preferred to help the Asian tourists who were in the store instead of me, a local. However, the salespeople at the Coach Factory outlet store in Waikele were very helpful, so go figure. So I guess it all boils down to what you can afford or are willing to pay. For me, I could care less if it came from the factory store. If I like it & it looks good, then who cares?
April 25, 2012 6:23 pm
I should have clarified I used the official website (yes, there is one) of Coach Factory Stores. You must register and get an invite to sales online. They have the same returns address, same customer service, etc. Fake websites are also easily recognized by their lack of spelling and proper use of grammar, among other things! The article helps to educate the consumer, but it is more negative than necessary, I think. Do people think their grocery store has their own cereal factory for the store brand? People would be amazed at how many different brands of cosmetics are manufactured at the same plant to be sold under many labels. If Coach makes products especially for the Factory Stores, it is still Coach and better made than cheap brands ( that are getting more expensive by the day). Perhaps the Factory Stores do things differently than the Factory Store online version does...who's knows? I do know it's legitimate. People need to do their homework so they don't get ripped off, and your article is a good piece of the puzzle. Thank you!
April 24, 2012 2:29 pm
Hi Laura. Thanks for reading BrandCultureTalk. Although there may be targeted offers, Coach is emphatic that "[t]he only website owned and operated by Coach to sell Coach products online is The ONLY authorized third-party websites that sell Coach products are: º º º . . . WARNING: Counterfeit websites often times use the word COACH in the URL and have content and a layout similar to"
April 24, 2012 1:58 pm
I got on the email list for the Coach factory online sale, and purchased my first Coach bag. It is gorgeous and well-made, does not have an F serial number or a little "target" stamp by the brand. I think that the majority of the online items are last season...according to my serial number, the bag I purchased was made last year. Who cares? I got a high quality bag for a song! You can go to Kohls and see vinyl "J.Lo" brand bags that are $130.00. Also , when i go to a department store that has a coach area, there are different bags every week! They cant sell them ALL! Like most things, You get what you pay for. I have one Dooney & Bourke that will last a lifetime, and I have purchased other brands that arent fit to donate after using them 5 months. You just have to be careful because there are so many counterfeiters out there. There are only 2 Coach websites, as have been mentioned. All the others are fakes. I can't vouch for outlet stores because I don't have one around here...but it sounds like it is still the same brand just a different version...some made for factory items, the rest overstocks or last week's styles or colors. Educate yourselves before making a purchase like this and you will be happy.
April 24, 2012 5:26 am
I own both - bags from the outlets and bags from the stores, and to be honest, both have a really long lifespan. I have some wristlets that I bought from the outlets and they have been around for over 5 years with everyday use. Some of my bags from the outlets have been around for the same time frame as well. In my opinion, they both are great. All seem to be just as strong for me. I have a Coach bag that I bought from the store since 2001 and it still looks good, similarly with the outlet bags I own, I have them for years with no zipper or strap problems, so I am not sure how to feel about this new discovery...but it was very insightful.
April 23, 2012 4:20 pm
Thank you Kristin and all others who have weighed in. As a testament to the enduring power of the Coach brand, this is the first BrandCulture Talk post to reach triple digits in comments.
April 18, 2012 6:55 am
Although my coach purse is a factory purse is it still holding up much better than different brand ones I bought for more $ at Macy's and Dillards. I bought it almost 6 months ago and it still looks brand new. My others had already fallen apart by the 6 month mark.
April 16, 2012 1:55 pm
Thank you for the very informative article - I had no idea!! I also appreciate the dissenting comments. Together, you've all given me a lot of new information. I bought my first Coach bag in 1994. It was all leather and cost me a whopping $270, which was a lot more money back then than it is now. I was a professional making a mid-level salary but I was also a single mother. Never a fashion hound, I have always nonetheless preferred quality so for me, that Coach bag was a splurge. It turns out it was well worth it - I only just retired it this year because it was finally starting to look shabby. I have been looking and looking at the Coach retail bags for a replacement and could not find one that I liked. To get a classic leather purse similar to the one I had, I could order from the Coach store. The price tag now? About $380, something I cannot spend right now. Also, when did Coach go to fabric bags? If you ask me, THAT'S the real scam. How a fabric bag can cost $400 is beyond me. Just yesterday I saw a leather Coach bag that I instantly loved in a consignment store. It was in like-new condition with the dust bag still tucked inside. I bargained the price down to $70 and walked out thinking I had gotten a great deal (and maybe I did - after all, I do like the purse). When I called the company with the serial number just to check the retail price, that is when I discovered that it was created for the factory outlet, with the original price set at $268, but of course, it never sold for that amount. Bumpkins like me don't know these things! I am not sure what I think about all this, but I'm glad to have more information now. As for the factory-created bags having less bling, well, I tend to prefer the classic, toned down look of older Coach bags so maybe I'm meant to be a factory outlet shopper.
April 12, 2012 1:39 pm
I wish I would have read this before I purchased a Coach "Factory" purse via ebay. I have several purses I have purchased in a Coach store and a couple from ebay that were from Coach store. I will never make the mistake of buying a Coach "Factory" purse. The patent leather is like plastic and looks like an easter egg. Nasty purse. Kind of makes me reevaluate my next Coach purchase.
April 11, 2012 6:42 pm
Good website that lists fake Coach online outlets is: There is a slew of them. I chatted with a Coach customer support person today and she stressed only to purchase Coach via the Coach store, Coach Factory Store, or an authorized dealer such as Macy's or Nordstrom. She did in fact say that the online Coach Factory store sale is by invitation only ( by receiving the invite by email). I do get cards in the mail as well from the Coach store for discounts a few times a year. Just have to be a smart consumer-please know those other websites claiming to be outlets are really selling cheap fakes and are ripping people off and getting away with it. Buyer Beware.
April 11, 2012 4:33 pm
I just purchased a Coach factory bag on Ebay (from Coach - they are having a special Ebay sale). Anyway, this will be my first Coach bag. Would I have loved to purchase one from a non-factory store? Yes! But I even felt guilty about spending $100 on this one! Someday, I will reward myself with one from a boutique. This one will do for now. I haven't received it yet, so it will be interesting to see the quality of this bag. The one problem I do have with all of this is the MSRP. I initially felt like I was getting a great deal since this bag supposedly used to be around $300, but now I see this is not the case. That is very misleading and they shouldn't do that. Other than that, I do not have a problem with factory stores or their return policy.
April 8, 2012 10:23 am
I was at my "local" Coach outlet a few days ago, about an hour outside of L.A., and picked up a lilac crossbody bag for just under $100 simply because I liked it and it met my needs (it's the perfect size, quite a bit larger than the crossbodies sold in the Coach boutiques). I was fully aware that this was more than likely a factory exclusive, b/c the quality simply isn't there-- don't get me wrong, it's a lovely bag, made WELL ENOUGH, but no, it is not the SAME quality as Coach boutique items, I own more than a few and am quite familiar with the brand. You aren't necessarily getting junk when you purchase from a factory store, but you are not getting superior quality items either. The materials are MUCH cheaper, the stitching isn't as good (most of the outer pockets on the crossbodies weren't sewn on straight, I had to fish thru a dozen to find a decent one). The lining of my bag is horribly wrinkled just like you'd expect in a cheap bag, however I recognized this and let it go, thinking nobody sees the inside of my bag except me, and I can live with it. The piping is cheap plastic, as is the zipper fob and the Coach dog tag, and the "Daisy" is nothing more than a cheap plastic doodad that doesn't exactly scream high-end handbag. Still, I happily handed over my hundred because I simply liked the bag, the color, the size, and the functionality. The fact that it has Coach "Cs" all over actually didn't matter that much to me. My ultimate point is that there is nothing wrong with shopping at the factory stores, however be a savvy consumer, know what you are getting for your money! Yes, a few items may be overstock from a boutique, but those are rare finds. You are still getting a decent handbag, wallet, etc., but it is not "high-end" Coach-- you can bet your bottom dollar the Kennedys wouldn't be caught dead shopping at a factory store, so if that's the only reason you have your eye on a Coach bag, keep on driving till you hit a boutique! Happy SMART shopping!
April 7, 2012 7:02 am
Spending money on name brand items in general is really is a bit rediculous... LV, Burberry, Chanel etc. All these items are overpriced for the sake of the name you are paying for. I would rather have a $200 Kenneth Cole Bag because it looks like its made of real leather... seems most people don't even know what real leather looks like. Go to walmart and buy a leather chamoise to dry your car for $10 thats what real leather looks and feels like. I bought an small LV purse for my Ex girlfriend... there is more "real leather" contained in that $10 chamoise then in that 8 inch by 2 inch LV that I spent $600 on. LOL!! we Aren't spending our money on Quality... It's all the same... especially since many bags ore a combination of leather and nylons... There is no purse "worth" $50, $100, $200, $300, $1000, $10,000 etc. If it were really worth that price the manufacturer would never let them fly off the shelves... they would preserve their wealth by storing them in a safe like Gold ingots. But instead they can't wait to market them to us and sell them at whatever price we are willing to pay... It's all silly really... I like Coach purses... and I am a MAN. I have never worn one on my shoulder... or on my wrist... but my finace' adores them and as much as I adore her... I would buy her 100 of them if every time she gets a glimmer in her eye... and thank God there is a Coach Factory Outlet because maybe I could actually afford to buy her 100 in her lifetime... For the life of me. The thing I understand the least is why doesn't she ever pick the purple one??? I think it's just beautiful and it just pops!!! and its fun!!! But as long as she just keeps choosing, black, Kaki and Ivory and she is happy that's all that matters... she is happy. I hope you are all happy. :)
March 5, 2012 2:10 pm
Now i know why coach is trying so hard to get the knock offs off the maket,, they were better than their factory made ones you all are talking about, So now coach has turned to making their money off of lawsuits of even the small flea market vendor trying to survive sueing him for sums of over $50.000 per knock off item, Nice company.
February 28, 2012 10:02 pm
do u men buying coach from factory outlet/online is FAKE?
February 25, 2012 10:34 pm
I would have to totally disagree with this article it is not very accurate or true. The first issue I have is the refund policy any true Coach customer knows that you can return a factory bag at full-priced store for a merchandise credit with no problem at all. If by chance the customers wants a refund issued in original form of payment it would then have to be returned to a factory store. The second issue being that bags offered at the full-priced stores does not end up at the factory stores for sale. This is totally untrue, as new merchandise is being introduced all the old stuff is sent to factory stores to be sold at a discounted price. The third issue I have with this article is the statement factory bags not being as good of a quality bag as a full-priced. For the most part you are getting the same bag from a full-priced store it's just last season's. Quality is still the same. I consider myself to be a very savvy shopper. I have over a half-dozen Coach bags that were purchased from either a full-priced Coach store, factory store, Nordstrom's, or Macy's. The only difference was the price I paid; quality has never been an issue. Factory/Outlets stores are basically selling the same quality merchandise but at a discount because either the item is from a past season or has been discontinued. Ladies please do not be misled by this article.
February 24, 2012 10:16 am
I think this article is a little misleading. I bought a full priced bag at a regular coach store a few months ago and now I see it on the coach factory website for 50% off at one of those 48 hour invite only sales. I think if you know the brand you can determine which bags were at one time at the regular coach store.
February 23, 2012 9:43 am
Actually, I don't think that Coach uses the same material with factory and retail purses. The leather and patent leather on my factory bags does not seem as thick as my retail leather purses...but, they are both good quality. I'm not complaining! I like both factory and retail Coach bags.
February 22, 2012 1:31 pm
This is only half true. Actually factory stores do sell some retail stores old stock, normally it is in its own section or in clearance. The store front is in fact the Factory brand but quality is not at all compromised. All the same leathers and cloths are used in the making of the bags. The only downfall is you don't get everything individually wrapped as you would at a full price, or the extensive employees and service, a dust bag, or the ability to shop online or order product in. These cut backs allow Coach Factory Stores to lower the prices on the bags. The turn lock issue you have mentioned is rare, it is not because the quality of it, but likely a defective product. It is only $20 to ship it out, and that includes return to your own address otherwise you are able to usually get an in store credit pending you have the receipt, tags and it hasn't been used that can be used at both Factory and Retail stores. Yes the downfall of buying at an outlet is you may have to travel and don't get the same luxuries but your also saving $200-300, and have the same quality of bag.
February 20, 2012 4:50 am
Why is there such an issue regarding the Coach retail and the Coach factory products? Virtually EVERY outlet store has their OWN outlet products, along with retail leftovers or slightly imperfect items: GAP, Banana Republic, White House Black Market, Talbots... the list goes on! I'm not sure why everyone is surprised or outraged at this concept. Outlet shopping may not be what it used to be (retail products only), but it can be affordable for customers who can't afford the retail prices and still want the "brand!" Shop Factory Coach or don't; if you don't, plenty of others will (same as other factory stores mentioned). By the way, Factory Coach has their own line of factory products, as well as selling returned merchandise (in re-sellable condition) from retail customers and retail store leftovers.
Just J
February 12, 2012 1:07 am
So to give perspective regarding the coach men's collection in full price vs outlet, I want to start that it is indeed true that: 1. The items in the outlet are for the outlet 2. Some bags from retail do end up in outlets 3. Some materials used in the outlet stores (e.g., nylon, leather trim, canvas, straps) are a notch less than retail 4. Factory prices are lower. I have 3 retail & 4 outlet bags. As far as I could tell, the leather (not leather trim) is identical between brand & factory, stitching, attention to detail & overall execution. However, there ARE differences: the straps that accompany my leather factory bags are not leather compared to retail counterparts & do not come w the same hang tags. For example, a leather crossbody from retail will have an extra metal hang tag & a leather strap but my factory bag has a high quality fabric shoulder strap without the extra metal hang tag but I also get a $150 price difference. This has been echoed before -- be smart & look for features that you cannot do without. Mine is overall high quality of execution. & yes, people on this blog are privileged because we all have some sort of collection of $150& up leathergoods. & quite frankly, the rest of the population probably does not appreciate the difference in quality of which we speak. Whenever I use my coach bags, most people are not even aware that coach carries a men's line. But overall, i have a personal baseline quality expectation that I use when purchasing luxury leathergoods. For example, I couldn't accept paying $800+ for a gucci canvas tote or a prada nylon bag when I could get a similar or better executed coach or Cole hAan canvas bag for $300+ at retail stores (~$150 factory) or a leather tote for $450+ (~$200+ factory). Bottom-line, I have gotten excellently executed factory leathergoods because I know what I expect in a luxury bag.
February 8, 2012 10:33 am
Hello (again?) Anon, We can't tell if you're the same Anon from Comment 75; if you are, welcome back. If not, welcome to BrandCultureTalk. Hatchi matchi! You seem to know a lot about Coach. But we're a wee bit hurt by your assertion that we're "bashing Coach with half-truths." We disclaim any ownership of comments to posts that we did not author (to say that we attract a wide range of comments is a bit of an understatement -- check out the comments on our post about Costco Your comment seems to confirm what we experienced at Coach Century City is indeed Coach policy: one cannot obtain a refund (note that we did not say "merchandise credit to be used in any Coach store") for a defective, unused Factory Coach bag in a regular full price store. We can't tell if you're representing Coach, or if you are just a passionate Coach enthusiast, but we would certainly welcome someone from Coach weighing in on the issue. If our experience at Coach Century City was inconsistent with Coach policy, we'll be happy to include a disclaimer that our experience was anomalous. Until then, thanks for reading BrandCultureTalk.
February 7, 2012 6:43 pm
OK. First of all. Coach Factory bags are *real Coach*. They operate retail stores in outlet malls. Do you think Coach would alow this to happen if they were fake? No. Second, yes, there are bags made exclusively for Factory. Often they are redos of styles that proved popular in full price. They are *exactly the same quality, and carry EXACTLY the same warranty. The major diferences, as someone noted, can be in hardware or color. They are priced at MSRP when they arrive, and are marked down (as are transferred full price bags) as time goes on. Third, both full price bags and factory bags are assembled in China. Having a Coach bag from there does NOT at all mean it is fake. Italian and American leathers are often shipped to China for assembly. Often, BY HAND. A typical Coach wallet is a 72 piece hand assembled product. Fourth, the "factory websites" are FAKE. Coach does maintain a factory website. It is invitation only. Fifth, Coach limits quantities in order to deter reselling. Coach wishes to maintain andc ontrol their own brand. Sixth, half of this article is hooey. Coach is not trying to trick anyone. Factory exists for the budget concious "fashion" buyer. It is still a fully warrantied Coach bag I am sorry you encountered poor customer service at a Coach store. What should have hapend is that you should have received a credit for your purchase, to be used at *any Coach store. But your one experience is not indicative of the brand, and bashing Coach with half truths is iresponsible.
February 6, 2012 11:48 am
Wheter it is Coach Factory or Coach Retail, it is still Coach. Not many people have the previlage of purchase from either store as all of us on here do. The part about having to returning a Factory bag back to the Factory store makes sense. It is a different part of the business. As long as you know the rules before you shop, why complain. As with any outlet shop, you have to look for flaws before you buy. If it is obvius that the product could be defective, you just don't buy it. As a person who has the previlage of owning both retail and factory, I have gone through two retail bags already because the fabric was defective. So, is it really worth paying full retail for the possiablity of the same outcome? I think for some people it is a personal preferance and making sure that you accept the terms of purchasing at an Outlet store.
February 6, 2012 11:35 am
Thanks for the informative article I was wondering why suddenly I was seeing a lot more women with coach purses theyre going to the outlets stores because of your article and your responders I know what to look for ( F in serial number targeted for outlet stores and dust bag that come with purses made for high end stores) at least I'll know what I'm getting for my money and for the rude employees well I can give them I hard time right back
February 1, 2012 11:06 am
You mention the difference in coach and coach factory stores, but what about the websites? Of course coach has an official website, but there are tons of coach factory and coach online websites each with a slightly different name which claim to offer coach brand products at up to 85% off. Just google coach and you will see. Each present the coach logo and claim to sell coach product, yet are any of theses websites legitimate? Are they selling authentic coach bags, the coach factory bags, or even knock offs. The deals sound great, but how can you know what you are really getting when you are ordering on-line? I do not mind being the outlet shopper or the bargain hunter if the product quality is satisfactory, but no one whats a product that does not work well or will break after just a little use.
January 28, 2012 9:17 pm
The central issue here is that Coach Outlets are listing the MSRP "as if" it were full blown regular store price thus implying that the bag is of equal quality and value as seen in Coach stores. The lesser quality handbags made specifically for Coach outlets is intentional. There was a back-lash from regular coach customers who were seeing handbags they just purchased being marked-down significantly at outlets and it ended up hurting the name brand. This is all about protecting the name brand. Coach and several other higher end name-brands started specifically producing "outlet" products. Difference between coach retail bags and outlet bags is mostly in thickness of fabric and slight changes in design. Most won't notice big difference. But again the core issue is in labeling of retail prices (and then reduction) on lesser quality coach outlet handbags. Its certainly unethical but does it cross a legal line of fair representation?
January 25, 2012 7:57 pm
My mother-in-law took me to our nearby coach outlet to pick out a special 30th birthday gift for myself. I found one I liked, we bought it, and I was happy. Then After 3 weeks of carrying it, the leather started turning a weird color. I took it back to the outlet and the sales associates were very nice and even exchanged the bag for me. I did learn during that visit that my bag was an "outlet only" design. I felt a little miffed knowing that my bag never sold for the $398 the price tag listed. It was probably from day 1 the $130 bag it was. I also learned a very important lesson from the super nice outlet associate, which is now the key to me ever buying a Coach bag again....ALWAYS look for bags that have dust bags included (they are thin drawstring bags stuffed inside the "real" ones that come from the full price stores). I did find an amazing style at the outlet that came from the full price store, dust bag and all, for $110...I have never had any problems with the quality. If you are going to go Coach outlet shopping, be sure your bag comes with a dust bag so you know you're getting the real thing for genuine outlet prices! I agree with the other reviewers complaint about "made in china"...for as much as these bags are, they should be made in USA.
January 14, 2012 11:40 pm
Yeah that was me with the made in China comment but that was off subject. The main paragraph was at a store sales associate was kind enough to pretty much confirm that this article?? Is right and thanks to this I went researching about my bags which led me into finding out they are made in China..I have a friend whose fake coach bag is made in China so kind of makes me mad. But back to the subject this article rocks.
January 14, 2012 6:57 pm
At one point Target Stores even sold a line of Coach Bags and Wallets!
January 13, 2012 7:12 pm
Hey there Anon (Comment 75), We can't tell from your name whether you are affiliated with Coach, Inc., but you write with no small amount of authority. Just to reiterate, our issue isn't that the turnlock from our Coach Factory bag fell off, it was the way Brianna from Coach Century City "full price" store reacted. Because Coach deliberately conflates its Factory and full price brands with single "Coach" imprimatur (yes, those in the know can tell the difference at a glance, but to us that's inside baseball), Coach has created an unwarranted set of consumer expectations (at least among this focus group of one), to wit, that a "Coach" bag should be able to be returned in a Coach [full price or Factory] store -- where "Customer Satisfaction is Paramount" and we will be treated like guests in your own home. With a luxury or near-luxury brand, the onus should be on Coach to return the defective, unused bag to its actual point of sales origin, even if the bag was never part of a particular store's inventory -- not force the customer to do so. Of course we would never try to return a Nordstrom purchase to a Macy's because they are two separate businesses and brands (although the unscrupulous customer might try to return the Macy's product at Nordstrom)! As for manufacturing in China vs. other locations, that was not the issue that we were raising in this post (although certain folks who commented on it sure seem to be stirred up). In any event, if the Wall Street Journal is to be believed, Coach has moved some of the China operations to Vietnam because manufacturing in China is too expensive! Thanks for your comment, Anon. And thanks for reading BrandCultureTalk.
January 13, 2012 4:51 pm
To address a few of your points: In regards to your poor experience, I apologize considerably. However, your treatment isn't the company endorsed means of addressing factory customers. Though policy does state that factory merchandise may only be returned for merchandise credit in full price stores, most stores would have sent out your repair for free of charge - and replacing a turnlock would be an easy fix. In regards to the ability to only receive merchandise credit in full price stores, that is because the item you are returning is not nor never was part of that store's inventory and, therefore, they don't have a means of keeping the item in their store. Its like buying a Macy's exclusive and trying to return it at Nordstrom. In regards to your concerns about where the product was made, the bags are hand stitched of at least 150 pieces in China and India, however, the leathers themselves are cut and tanned in the USA, Italy, France, Spain and a variety of other countries and the designs are created from designers in New York City. There is also a workshop in New York City that creates the limited edition pieces and renderings that are used for creating the pieces - therefore, your money is spread across a variety of countries, not just China.
January 11, 2012 1:38 pm
I have a coach wallet that has a binding around the outside edge that is falling off after less than a year of use. It was purchased in the NYC store, so much for the better quality at the "real" store. this is a design flaw and the use of plastic edging goes completely against what I perceive as fine leather products. I don't live near a store so i will be forced to spend an additional $20.00 to have them "evaluate" the problem. I think they are slowly killing themselves. Sorry coach I don't think your products are as good as they use to be, you are pushing your customers away!
January 9, 2012 3:21 am
One of my co-workers told me that she had gotten a 'madison' coach bag (the bag is huge) from a coach outlet/factory store for $160 dollars. After she had told me this, I decided to check out some articles regarding coach outlet/factory stores. That is when I came across this article and to be honest, I am not surprised to read about the quality of coach bags that are sold in coach outlets/factories. When my co-worker mentioned $160 dollars for a large coach bag, I knew something was wrong. When a coach bag (or any designer bag) is sold for such a huge discount, what would make one think that the bag is 'real' in every way? I purchase all of my coach bags from the coach store on Madison Ave. in N.Y.C. If not there, from Macy's or Saks. I would much rather pay full price for a coach bag. I find that when that is the case, the bag lasts for such a long time. I have coach bags that I have purchased fifteen years ago and they still have not given me one ounce of trouble. That is the main reason why I prefer coach bags. They simply last much longer than the average bag - that is if one purchases a genuine coach bag. If something is offered for a ridiculously low amount of money, beware. I must download and give a copy of this article to my co-worker. Thanks for the information.
January 8, 2012 2:18 am
I have bought many coach bags as gifts, and for personal use. I have only had 1 problem so far, and it was a sticking zipper. I have purchased all my bags in a coach factory store, and have not seen any discernible difference. The bag I returned was out of stock, so they offered me an even exchange, or send for repair. I opted for the exchange. I was treated extremely well, and always have been. Yes, the store is sometimes crowded. But, I have never seen the staff be rude to anyone. My Coach purses are holding up perfectly. My daughter has a Coach bag from a Coach store, and there is no difference. I am very pleased with everything I have purchased at the outlet, and will continue to do so. It is a genuine Coach product. If the complainers don't like the stigma of outlet store, then its simple-don't go. the rest of us will be quite content buying from the outlet stores, and saving money.
January 6, 2012 1:27 am
I am buying the " kristing round sage satchel" for $699.00 and I called the store and this is exactly what I asked: Do you guys have the kristin round sage satchel in muave? Sales associate: No, we have it, just not the color you want but we can order it online for you. Me: well here's the deal I turn 21 on February and I'm buying myself a more expensive handbag, I really like this bag but lately I have been reading how people buy their bags for 100-200 dollars at an outlet store when I have spent over 450.00 (tax included)on each bag from your store..and for it to just end up at an outlet store for way less of what I paid. Sales associate: well usually the handbags that are at the outlet stores are SPECIFICALLY made to be there, however some of our products due end up at an outlet, I can't for sure tell you if the bags you have bought are at the outlet stores but I can for sure tell you that the purchase you want to make on the kristin, this handbag is made in limited quantities that I am more than sure it won't be in an outlet once new collections are in, your more than welcome at coming to see the handbag "WE all love it" its one of our favorite bag in the store right now. Me: okay ill go see it and decide if I want to purchase on my birthday. Sales associate: okay anything else I can help you with? Me: No, that's all I needed to know, thank you! Click! Well this was today after doing quite some research on my bags, well I cleaned out one of them and read that "made in China" tag ...I was furious! Yes I know before spending so much money on bags I should of known what I was buying. Personally I hate "made in China products" why I don't know, anyway that led me into researching about coach "which I was under the impression was made in America" I don't want to buy a Louis Vuitton bag because "everyone has their speedy faux bag" I like coach leather bags not their tacky "signature print" ew. And yes I do own one which I am emotionally attatched to or else it wouldn't be in my closet, it was 423.00 dollars and my bf of 4 years took me into the store to get whatever bag I wanted "it was valentines day" so for that I will NEVER get rid of it. I'm gonna ask to be buried with my first valentines day present from the love of my life! Lol after that I started buying their leather products and well they are awesome! Haven't had a problem with them at all but i never knew they were made in China:( I am a full price shopper since where I live there is no outlet store but I will be furious if I ever find the one I'm going to buy on February at an outlet, that will be soo messed up! And I will stop being a custumer for sure! Anyways I like coach cause their styles are for everyone, you got their poppy for the fun girly custumers, then their sophisticated styles and their classics(which I do not like) I hope coach one day catches up with Louis Vuitton cause honestly Louis Vuitton has some scary price tags. I would love to own their galliera handbag but $$ 1,800+ for it! They are on crack! Not everyone has "angelina jolies pay" lol and to whoever owns it yeah I envy you ;p lol
January 4, 2012 7:20 am
And just to add that Coach isn't trying to "fool" anyone. If you ask an associate at either store what the difference between full price and factory they will tell you flat out. But they aren't advertising it for you. Would you make your merchandise sound less appealing to your customer? Just let it go there is no one plotting to deceive you.
January 4, 2012 7:12 am
Coach makes factory bags to make coach available for customers with a budget. Because believe it or not Coach uses expensive matierials and the bags are handmade. So OF COURSE they will have to make factory bags of lower quality than full priced bags. However, the factory bags are still higher quality then lets say what you would get at stores like kohl's and sears. There are a small percentage of bags in factory stores that come from full price stores. The customer will have to know what they are looking for or simply ask an associate to direct you to them. To answer one of the earlier questions, Coach sends their full priced bags back to the distribution center when they recieve new bags.
January 2, 2012 2:33 pm
It's ridiculous all these people saying factory bags aren't real Coach... It's still made by Coach, has the six year warranty, and same great styles. Not everyone who wants a Coach bag can shell out $500 for a nice leather full-price bag. You can get a very similar style (with only a few less hang-tags) for $125. Full price wallets start around $218 if you want a checkbook, or $75 at a factory store. Yes it is different, but it's also affordable. And full-price stores would never offer sale merchandise like factory stores do where you can receive 50% off and the additional 30% off coupon.
December 30, 2011 9:57 pm
I also shop at both Coach boutique and Factory stores. My advice to all is to do your homework. Like some of the others posted, regular price items do sell in Factory stores. I recently bought a Kristin Hobo (no F on the tag), and a Penelope Bag (with an F). Both bags were great bargains. I hope they last as long as my older Coach handbags from the mid 80's. Also: consider shopping for smaller items (like scarfs and leather cleaner) to get on the full price mailing list. Once you are on the full price list, you will get the discounts mailers for the Coach boutique. I also purchase a Penelope bag from, which is a Coach website and not a knock off. The factory website holds online sales several times a year. Other times, it directs you to the closest factory store.
December 28, 2011 8:08 am
Re: Patricia (49) - interesting that without unions in China we are still paying $300 plus for Coach purses sold in actual Coach stores and department stores. Unions are not the problem but greedy CEOs and management who want all the profit. You have been brain washed by the wealthy elite. They have done a great job of pitting the 99 percent (middle class) against each other by making the union the bad guys. Please wake up!
December 26, 2011 8:09 pm
I had a great experience at the Coach boutique recently. They gladly accepted a return for store credit of a an item without a receipt or gift receipt. The staff was incredibly helpful and friendly. They were out of the bag I wanted in the color I wanted, so they offered to ship it to me with no shipping charges in a nicely packaged box. Even before reading this article I was hesitant to shop at the Factory store, and now after reading it and noticing differences in the logos alone, I will definitely not shop at the Factory store.
December 25, 2011 6:56 am
Janet, the site you ordered from is a fake. Coach has no "online outlet store." Their online presence is only their regular retail presence which directs you to the bricks and mortar factory stores if you want a factory bag. Your bags are counterfeit, not because they are from the factory store but because they are not even from Coach. I would call your card company and stop the charge.
December 21, 2011 12:03 pm
i just bought 4 from an on line out let store and was told products were genuine -at reduced price -i taught this was too good to be true -if i had read this article before i would not have bought them
serious customer
December 16, 2011 7:08 pm
im so upset at coach for running this scam
December 14, 2011 10:48 am
I have at least 4 bags that I purchased at a Factory outlet that were also being sold in a regular Coach store just a month before. I actually purchased one for myself from a Coach store and someone loved it and I ended up purchasing the exact bag from a Factory Outlet a month later. I'm sure some are made specifically for the Factory Outlets, but that is definitely not the case with all of them. I've heard more horror stories about purchasing fakes from stores such as Macy's.
December 8, 2011 10:35 pm
Well hellooo? ever think that outlet is stuff that other stores didn't sell want or went out of style or has a bit of damaged? and well where to those damaged goods go to? OUTLET STORES -__- funny how ya'll folks think that the coach bags from the outlet stores are fake o.O hahah well ever think the person who wrote this article is someone who is connected to coach, who would want to tell you guys something like this so you guys would think its "fake" and go to an actual coach store were you'll pay full price for a coach, when you can drag your happy ass into an outlet coach and recieve and amazing deal on a REAL coach. But ya'll folks go ahead and pay a lot of money, & I'll go shopp at an outlet and save save save :D
November 29, 2011 10:56 pm
I have been shopping the regular and outlet stores for several years. I just returned from a trip to the outlet mall and things have changed. There were always differences in some of the bags, ("outlet only" were always part of the inventory but they were not blatantly obvious.) They are now. Ninety percent of what was in the store was extremely cheap. I thought it was odd when one of my friends called before I got to the Coach Store and said they were having a HUGE SALE! Everything was $129-$169 AND they were passing out 30% off coupons good in addition to the sale prices! She was so excited. I didn't even have to look close at the bags to see the difference. The handles are narrower, the seams are single instead of double stitched (and crooked), the fabric and leather are both much thinner, then I picked one of them up... I am so disgusted. I looked around the store for my friend. I was afraid she would have bought a bag based on our constant praise for the quality of the product. (Which did not exist in this store.) Coach, you can't have it both ways. I know what you are trying to do, but you can only exploit your own name and reputation for so long. I have never bought a bag from the outlet, I prefer to get exactly what I want and limit how often I can buy one. That said, when I see the Coach name I have a very specific expectation of quality and class. Whoring up your name for a higher profit margin doesn't impress me. It makes me want to look at LV.
November 23, 2011 2:35 pm
NOT TRUE... I have been able to return at a full price Coach store with no hassle and infact the only trouble I've had with Coach was an item from the FULL price Coach store & when I went to the factory outlet they gladly helped me get a replacement, they shipped it out for me FREE of charge and shipped it to my home within a weeks time.
November 17, 2011 7:52 pm
I used to work at Coach. We accepted returns from the factory store but I believe we only gave store credit, not a refund. If the factory store wasn't part of the regular Coach store, we would never have done it. Above information isn't exactly accurate, don't always believe what you read. That being said, there are products that are made specifically for the outlet store, I could usually tell what bags were purchased at the outlet (the more colorful, crazy design ones always end up there).
November 17, 2011 2:05 pm
I,m a hug fan of coach. I shop both stores and i can personally say that factory stores do get past season item from coach in the malls. I luv them both and you can exchange an item that u purchase from f' outlet to the one in the mall.
November 13, 2011 5:12 pm
A Coach Factory bag is not a "counterfeit" Coach bag. It is a real Coach bag. If you took that bag back to a full retail store, they will give you store credit at the retail Coach because it is a genuine Coach bag. If you take a fake Coach bag to a full retail store, they will likely destroy the fake. Now if you're going to complain about how they do not fall all over themselves to replace a damaged factory bag with a new one at a retail store, stop for a moment and think about the fact that they do not have that bag in their store (even if the bag was originally in retail stores, if it is in the outlet it is not in the retail store any longer), how would they be able to replace your bag? Should they turn to the magic purse-making elf in the back room? The MSRPs on factory outlet tags are, indeed, absurd, as are the retail prices of the boutique bags. A wise shopper who is truly concerned about quality shops on the basis of the item before them, not on the labeled "MSRP." Something can be a deal at retail price while others would not be worth anything at 80% off. If you shop on quality, you have nothing to complain about whether you go to Coach Factory or Coach Retail because you will only buy what meets your standards. If the bag was poorly made, you're unliley to have bought it for $100 let alone $300. If you are angry that your previously beloved Factory bag is somehow "lesser" because it was never offered at a larger markup, then you are not a quality shopper, you are a "brand" shopper. In that case, you should be happy that you've bought what you really wanted (the brand name) at a low price. For those who are really burned up, consider shopping Louis Vuitton--they don't have outlets, rarely have discounts (largely only to employees) and DESTROY overstock and items that do not sell. The entry price for Louis Vuitton bags is a mere $600 or so for their smaller canvas purses.
November 12, 2011 12:08 pm
My niave self refused to buy a counterfiet Coach purse based on ethical loyalty to Coach brand; so I bought what I thought was a authentic Coach purse at a factory outlet store at a 75% savings from the ticket price. Little did I know that Coach themselvs were getting into the counterfiet business. They are ticketing factory purses at Coach store prices then radically reducing the price to unsuspecting customers. All this to make you think you bought an original an a great deal. Shame on you Coach.
November 5, 2011 8:29 am
Um, i bought a few purses from an outlet and i have no letter F in any of my serial numbers. I also have seen "real" full price coach purses that were in the actual coach store in the outlet store a few months later. thee exact same thing. so this article means nothing to me at all.
November 4, 2011 4:15 am
If you like your purchase then that's all that matters. We walked into the place of business and made a decision if what we were looking at was worth what we had to pay for it at the time of purchase. We examined it and made a decision. If you can't justify spending full price for a similar item why does it matter. Throw your bag over your shoulder and enjoy it because in the end life is to short for this to really matter. We will not get a $300 item for $120 unless it is damaged in some way, last years design or doesn't have as many features and that's alright. Don't let something like this steal your joy.
October 27, 2011 10:32 am
I shop Coach Retail, Dept Stores and outlets (Nordstroms Rack, Off 5th and Neimans Last Call), Coach Factory Outlets, SteinMart, TJ Maxx and Marshalls - all carry Coach products. Some Coach products were manufactured for Factory Outlet and some are sale, discontinued and seconds (small defects in color or stitching) but they all carry Coach warranty. There are differences in service, sales and selection but that doesn't mean merchandise in company owned Factory stores or vendored to TJ Maxx, SteinMart or Marshalls are in any way inferior or less quality. Coach tries to maintain their reputation for quality and I have Bonnie Cashin bags from the 1970s in great condition. Coach products found at secondary retail sources are often last season's styles or leftovers that were vendored as overstocks from other sources such as Dept Stores that closed or reduced inventory. I have been a faithful Coach Factory outlet customer for decades - stock can be discontinued, overstock, last season's colors or styles and returns from the Coach mall stores at very good prices in comparison with the mall or department store prices. Coach has very strict pricing and sales controls with front line retailers about discounts and sales to try to preserve the integrity of their brand. If you want the new product, you have to pay the retail price. I have been satisfied with quality of Coach products found thru resources including consignment stores where I can examine the item for authenticity and condition. I will not buy Coach products thru any Internet outlet stores, auctions or online listings (unless they provide original receipt) since there is a greater risk of buying a fake. Coach products are like any other brand - if the price or the website seems to be too good to be true, let the buyer beware.
October 7, 2011 8:07 am
This comment is in reference to Sue's comment on Aug 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm If there were mispellings, poor grammar, etc, you were looking at a knockoff website. There is only ONE official Coach Factory website, and you can find it at They have invite-only sales on that website. You cannot go anytime & purchase from it. Before knocking the company or the quality, be sure that you are looking at a REAL product, not fakes. Coach would NEVER undermine their credibility by including typos, poor sentence structure, etc. Like any good brand, they do attempt to maintain their brand image across retail stores, outlets, and their website. Seeing any different should be your first indicator of a fake.
September 25, 2011 4:23 pm
Jobs would never leave the U.S. if it weren't for unions. And as long as unions continue to exist and enforce their ridiculous demands, the manufacturing will remail over seas which is fine by me because I don't want to pay $300 for a pair of american made jeans I bought at WalMart.
September 16, 2011 10:32 pm
What should really get everyone's hackles up is that ALL of Coaches bags (like so many other brands) are made overseas, courtesy of the Rethuglicans (under the Clinton administration) & their NAFTA/GATT free trade agreements! I am old enough to remember when the brand was proudly "Made in America"; now they send the jobs overseas to have a bag made for a pound of rice a month & bring it back to sell to you for a pound of gold! Then they cry foul when these same foreign contractors knock of their bags for cheap to sell to Americans! Serves all of them (designers) right for taking jobs from hard working Americans & giving them to foreign competition!! America will continue to see high unemployment under any political party until they bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. & stop being so much of a consumer nation & more of a manufacturing nation, like we once were.
September 14, 2011 7:33 am
I found the article and everyone's comments very helpful. I have one question. It was mentioned that the bags made for the Factory store are designated on the tag with an "F". Is there a different designation on the tag for a bag that came from the Full price store?
September 11, 2011 2:18 am
I have few Coach stuff bought from their factory outlet in Woodbury, and 1 Coach bag from the boutique itself. Honestly, I don't find any problems with these two stores. I receive regular offers like up to 25% off from the boutique, which you don't get that very often unless you're a regular customer I think? One thing about the factory outlet, the bags are mostly from their old collections which no longer sold at Coach boutiques. The boutiques only display certain latest collections up to certain period of time, before they send them off to factory outlet and sell at 30% off or more. Same quality, cheaper price, great bargain. Even if its lower in quality, you get what you pay. Don't invest little on something you expect more than the price itself.
September 3, 2011 4:43 pm
I am so glad that I sat down and read everything the article and every comment. Let me just tell you this I was looking for a Coach bag today yesterday I was at Dillards praying the prices would go down for the holidays. Today, I was on Craigs list and so happen a Coach bag came up. I immediately asked for a photo and the young lady sent me one. Now on her message she said that she had paid $ 366.00 for hers and only had it few months. That got me think I asked her where she bought it she then told me from Coach outlit store. I didn't know they existed. Well it did but it was in Destin so, I called the lady she said today they were 30% off. I almost got in the car to drive down then and their mind you their is just one problem? Thiers a small thing called Hurrican Lee. I called the lady back and she said, well its just windy and raining but I am too busy right now even though I had to drive an hour and ahalf I probably would have. My husband God Bless him said, Honey your quiet advangerous to drive during a hurricane for a purse. Well, I got out of the car and got back on my computer and found so much information I thank God I didn't loss my life over such a thing! Thank You Thank you, Thank you and shame on Coach give the little people a chance with something special not that horse-pucker.
September 3, 2011 11:50 am
Interesting article and very informative. I love COACH buy cannot afford the $300 - $500 for the bags sold in boutiques. I am more than happy to purchase factory COACH bags because they are beautiful and I can afford them. Not everyone is a millionaire, you guys. The economy really sucks right now. Please get over it.
tania vega
August 27, 2011 8:27 pm
i want to buy this product whole sale, please tell me how can i do it
August 24, 2011 5:48 am
I've bought several bags at the outlet store and have always had great experiences with them. The first positive experience was my $200 diaper bag, which then turned into a laptop bag, and then a carry-on bag for all my trips. Four years later the bag is still in almost perfect shape!! Since then I've purchased a few more with similar results. A few days ago I got a pair if shoes (camille signature heel) for a whopping $188 at the full priced store. These are the most uncomfortable shoes I have ever worn!! My point is that it is like everything, sometimes products are defective. I have not found a significant difference between the "store" and the factory store. If there were a slight difference then to me, the price difference would justify it to some minor extent, since I am still getting the "look" and based on my personal experience a quality product. Mind you, I consider myself to be the type to visit either store if something catches my eye...... I would much rather go to the outlet though!!! Here in Miami the distance between an outlet and the real store can be 10 blocks away from one another.
Mavis Prince
August 21, 2011 9:24 am
"Their label"
Mavis Prince
August 21, 2011 9:23 am
It is not just Coach, it is every single one of those stores which are in every outlet across America. They all have different brands for the outlet factories. How do I know? Well, early this year, I went to one of those stores to return an item in the "real" store in the MALL (that is where they reside). The "real" store told me that they didn't carry that "label." There label was a different color. The label that I had was an "outlet" label. So, I started an investigation all over the mall. I found out that each one of them had different labels for the outlets. True story. I can prove it.
August 18, 2011 5:48 pm
I'm confused about the "F". My mom got me one, which had been on the official Coach website and after reading your post, I went and checked it and the serial number does start with an "F". My old skool heritage bag, which is on the website, too, I don't think has any serial number because it's so old--especially not what they put on there now, but dang it's held up perfectly. I've been shopping online looking at ebay and at the online coach store for a diaper bag. I kind of like the one's I've found on Ebay a little better, but most of the ones on Ebay have the "F" either in the beginning or somewhere later in the serial number. So your telling me that the one my mom got me is a factory? It was on the coach website...I'm actually not sure where she bought it from but I'm assuming it was an actual store not a factory because our factory outlets are really far out of town. So, should I buy my next bag from Ebay or just go with one from the Coach website and see if it comes with an F or not. PS> going to a store is not an option for me as I live in asia and the prices here for a coach bag are crazy high as well as the quality is significantly lower.....Hmmm, I should go check those numbers.
August 13, 2011 4:07 pm
I found this post after looking at the online coach factory websites and noticing mispellings in descriptions, poor grammar, and many bags didn't seem to exist in the regular Coach styles. I thought the prices were too good to be true and was suspicious of the descriptions due to the obvious poor English. It was like I was back in Japan or Taiwan where I grew up in the 1960 and 1970's talking to a student who wanted to practise their English. Thank goodness I didn't place my order. I'll just go without since I've already overpaid for 2 of the real things in local department stores and now resent the company's policy and obvious desire to fool customers. Nowhere on the online Coach factory websites do they state that some of these bags were made only for the factory outlet. Thank goodness they were too cheap to hire somebody with a knowledge of the English language which sent me searching for a reson which I found here. Thanks!
August 8, 2011 8:32 pm
OMG I love it when people don't even realize that they are themselves the very bargain shoppers they are complaining about! I hate to break the news to you, but Surprise! You are at an outlet mall! SURELY you aren't there looking for the exact same experience, quality, etc that you would get a a mall store?! If you are, you are clearly an idiot and you are lying to yourself. I recommend that you drop the facade of "snobbishness" immediately... you deliberately drove there looking for a bargain just like everyone else! PRICE was your primary directive, not quality. With the economy struggling the way it is, I commend COACH for taking a chance to expand it's customer base to cater not only to yuppies and professionals, but also to teens and people who have never even heard of the brand before the factory! Lord knows, a TRUE die-hard COACH fan like myself will hold onto a bag FOREVER because of its durability and long lasting style. (I've had one of my bags for over 20 years!) We aren't generally the type of consumers that help a business grow. The outlets are one of the few sectors showing growth and profitability! And being a TRUE COACH fan, I do own stock in the company and trust me, I love seeing the kind of creativity, marketability and exposure this division has shown. Remember, market share is the name of the game. For some people, this entry level Factory bag will only be one of MANY bags they buy over the course of a lifetime. You have to realize this is a store for a customer with a different priority- not everyone expects a fashion bag to last 20 years. When they carry their COACH factory bag, they are saying to the world the exact same thing that YOU are by carrying your COACH mall bag, that they love their bag, they love the company and consider it to be the ultimate in style!
Tanger Outlets - Horry County - City-Data Forum
August 2, 2011 9:27 am
[...] The prices are fairly cheap, but don't be fooled into thinking you are getting quality merchandise. These factory outlet stores sell inferior products and not the same things as the "regular" stores. In my opinion, this is not a bargain and I won't shop there. It all depends on what you want, though, but thought you should know this. COACH vs. COACH Factory Store Outlet: One Brand, Two Separate Businesses [...]
July 26, 2011 3:10 pm
This comment is solely about customer service. The full price stores that I have been in are full of rude employees that don't give you the time of day because they automatically assume that you can't afford their products, which is quite the contrary. This happens to me every time I go into the Coach store at Circle Center Mall in Indianapolis, IN. Every time I go into the outlet near me, I have the absolute opposite experience. They don't have a list for people that want to buy more than 10 items, unless they are all the same product. The reason they do that is to cut down on the people that try to replicate true Coach products for county and state fairs. That makes perfect sense. As for quality, I have had better luck with my outlet purchases than my full priced ones. Every store that has an outlet plays the same game, so there's no point in making it seem like Coach is the only offender.
July 20, 2011 7:35 pm
I purchased a tote today from the outlet in my area. It said it is the Gabby collection. The girl said some of the bags they carry are made just for factory stores and some are mess ups and some over stock. I had read that a fake Coach will have knots in the stitching and sure enough there is on mine. I will be bringing it back.
July 17, 2011 6:14 pm
I visited both Coach retail store and a factory store recently. I noticed that the quality of the bags at the factory store was inferior compared to the retail store. They were cheaply made. If the items were made for "factory", Coach should not have put MSRP of higher value, tricking the customers into thinking that they received a great deal. It is deceptive marketing.
June 11, 2011 12:18 pm
I purchased many of my Coach bags at an outlet store in Kittery, ME. One very large bag I have had for several years now has a rip in the leather. I will be mailing it back to Coach for repairs. After reading this article I checked the serial number on the bag. It starts with an M, not an F. There is no F in the number. Maybe they sell factory bags and last season bags at the outlets. I will continue to shop there. I have bought many, many bags from the outlet stores and they have lasted me for years and years. F or no F, I've been very happy with my factory bags.
May 25, 2011 7:35 am
I have been a fan of Coach for several years. On their behalf I have to ad this to your blog. Yes it is true that Coach makes purses, wallets and trinkets especially for the outlet store. Some of the purses made for outlet, are made from the same fabric, and some made specifically for the outlet. Outlet bags do have the same quality stitching, and fabulous lining, but the hardware is much lighter and less detail put into the bling bling effect. The one point that I would like to mention that you did not, is that SOME purses from the "retail Coach store" do end up in the outlet store, when they are at the end of a season. You will find the retail bags, in limited numbers, at the outlet, but the colors are from the past seasons. The prices are reduced somewhat, but not nearly as much as the made for outlet bags. IE the Madison Sophia that is so popular. Now the spring/summer colors are out, so at the outlet you will find the fall/winter colors. Its a bit upsetting to me, because I just purchased a Gunmetal Sophia at retail Coach for $298 in February. I saw the same purse at the outlet last weekend, the price was reduced only to $289 but they offered a 30% off coupon. I am a bit bothered by that, but that is how it is with seasonal type merchandise. You wont pay full price for a sweater in the middle of summer, right? The outlet targets the popularity that cannot walk into Coach and spend $400 on a purse, $200 on a wallet, and $58 for a keyfob. So they walk out of the outlet with a Coach purse, and a smile, and a little cash left. For me, I do shop at the retail store, when I have a 25% off coupon, and I will shop at the outlet, but hunt for the bags that came from the retail store.
May 10, 2011 7:14 am
I hate the "new" outlets. It's obvious when you walk in that they do not carry the same quality items that their regular stores do. This applies to Coach and all other outlet stores that I have visited. Many years ago, outlet stores were true outlets that sold overstock items or last season's/year's styles at deep discounts. That is a thing of the past. I used to be able to go the the Jessica McClintoc outlet and buy a true designer gown (not a lesser made garment w/ a label slapped on it) that normally would cost hundreds of doallars for around $20. Now that's a bargain! The new outlets are nothing but ripoffs.
March 16, 2011 10:41 pm
umm what you say about "Coach store never have sales" i recently got a 25% coupon for full-price coach stores, by mail
March 6, 2011 11:03 pm
Notes on Coach Factory: I have many of both "types" of bags (Coach and Coach Factory). I find them pretty indistinguishable, aside from design. This isn't to say that full-price Coach has better designs. Ugly bags can occur in both lines. Remember the full-price Tropical Fish bags? And the weird line with the Swarovski crystals and bumblebees? Ugh. Anyway, I almost always stop at the Coach Factory in Colorado when I'm traveling and have always, always found my experience to be excellent. Today, I saw full-price merchandise (clothes and one of the Kristin OP Art swing bags) there, along with factory bags. But I bought Factory bags because I liked the designs better than the new full-price Kristin bags. I'm assuming some of the manufacturing cost in Factory designs are mitigated by using older or tried-and-true designs (I saw several variations on my two-year-old Factory bag). Quality: I've never really had many quality problems with the factory bags. My two-year-old daily carry has been heavily abused - for example, I've thrown it across a parking lot once and frequently haul things like open chicken nuggets or tupperware in it. It still gets copious compliments, such as "Your purse is beautiful" and "Is that Kate Spade?" in this month alone. So really, I find the leather bags to be a good value for a "luxury" product. A normal Coach purse will cost $278+ but I think Coach has realized that there is a very, very large market of buyers who can only justify spending about $128-209 on a purse. And buyers like me, who will spend the $400 but get three purses (one for me, two to give away). After all, think of it this way - if you're Coach and you really are making a huge profit margin - partially from recycled designs, or whatever - you can afford to cut your prices a little in order to pursue a very large market of buyers. After all, price is one thing, but volume is important too. Now, the quality for the other straight-to-factory stores, like Ann Taylor and Banana Republic are entirely different. They're usually pretty bad.
March 5, 2011 8:58 am
A lot of FP Coach shoppers are savvy enough to know that most of the higher end bags that are sold in the stores and on the website will end up at the Coach outlet to make room for the newer styles. It's basically a waiting game.
March 3, 2011 1:48 pm
I'm surprise to hear that a Factory employee told someone they could just "come back the next day" to buy more. At the store I went to, not only do they limit each customer to 10 items, they put your name on a "master list" so that you can't buy anything else (from that or ANY other Coach store) for 2 weeks. This is apparently a policy. So if your goal is Christmas (or special event) shopping, PLAN AHEAD! This policy, though, doesn't make much sense. It keeps honest customers from buying legitimate Christmas & birthday gifts for family members (since I live 500 miles away, when I do go I'd prefer to buy whatever I like), but people who live close by can come every 2 weeks and "load up" to re-stock their pathetic ebay supply. It would make much more sense if they simply banned the people who actually DO purchase every 2 weeks like clockwork...obviously, THOSE are your evil ebay scum! Don't punish the customer who only shops once per year but would like to purchase 12 or so as gifts! My teenagers would have loved to have a Coach bag w/matching wallet, "Factory" or not, and you would think Coach would appreciate the brand being introduced to the teen market (holders of almost exclusively disposable income), but they won't get that chance, thanks to Coach, "the customer-hating company". Never have I been treated so poorly by ANY brand as in my recent attempt to purchase gifts for my 17 & 19-yr olds, who have birthdays 3 days apart.
February 2, 2011 10:05 am
I am surprised to see how many people were surprised at the things that were disclosed in this article. I have known for years that the companies within the outlet or factory malls never sell the same merchandise. Visiting the real stores that are "full-priced" and then venturing over to the outlet mall, you will find that many of these full priced stores make sure to do little things to differentiate themselves from the outlet brand that shares the same name. From the Childrens Place putting different animals on their clothes to indicate what shirt came from what store, to Coach's poorer quality at an outlet, to colors that would never be found this season at a J.Crew outlet, the biggest misconception that most people believe is that these stores carry the same product. Good job disclosing the truth, its refreshing to hear someone else claim what I have been saying for years.
January 27, 2011 1:42 pm
My full price coach from downtown Chicago became defective 3 months after purchase and I too had to mail my bag to Jacksonville, FL. I was told 8 weeks later that it could not be repaired and was only offered $100 off my next full price purchase. I wish I had purchased at a factory outlet instead.
January 26, 2011 4:14 pm
Edit- wannabe elitist snobs.
January 26, 2011 4:12 pm
Um, Coach is Coach is Coach is Coach, what differnce does it really make? As long as it looks good and you got a good deal. Its not like youre buying something fake from chinatown. Get off your pedestal elitist snobs.
January 25, 2011 5:06 pm
ok lets be realistic --do you really thing it cost coach hundreds of dollars to make a purse--of coarse not--they know there are people out there with money to burn that will pay whatever just because they think if you pay more its better--they also know they can still make a huge profit with a much lower pricetag if they still call it coach--they cant however sell the very same bag in one store for 5 times the price of the one down the street and still get the high price customer to keep paying the high price--so they vary the styles--not neccescarilly the quality--and yes because there is so much profit in the high price bags they do have more room to more customer service
January 17, 2011 9:17 pm
I live in between two towns each having a factory store and a full regular coach store. I have NOT found the factory bags inferior to the full regular stores. I have bought bags from both places and have enjoyed all my bags. I guess a return experience depends on the employees because the return policy is the same with both the factory stores and full regular stores. The clip on my new swing pack broke that I bought at a department store, and a full reg. coach store made a very courteous exchange in store. My daughter bought me a lock key chain from a full store. The silver flaked off after 7 months. When I presented the key chain they were eager to exchange it on the spot but I didn't see the one I had. The factory store down the road didn't have a duplicate either, but they happily exchanged it for another I liked just as well. I always have a good experience in a Coach store whether I am buying, returning or exchanging. Where I live, (Fort Myers/ Estero FL.) Coach's customer service is supurb no matter which store I go. This keeps me a loyal and frequent customer. I applaud the managers and sales people running these stores who recognize customers come first.
January 16, 2011 10:01 am
I've shopped FP and MFF and my take is this. The whole concept is not really any different than you see with car manufacturers. Each auto maker has "entry level" all the way up to full-on luxury models. The entry level offers (especially with luxury brands) an opportunity to own the brand. There's nothing wrong with that. If Lexus, Mercedes-Benz or BMW only offered their top of the line, fully-loaded models - they would sell a heck of a lot less cars. Coach's factory store is a way to accomplish two things - liquidate FP merchandise to make room for new stuff and to sell an MFF product that still has the same or similar quality but has less of the bells and whistles and allow the masses to own a brand they couldn't at FP. MFF customers often will become FP customers. I think it's a win-win situation for Coach. Those who say they won't buy factory - that's their perogative. If you like paying FP for everything - no one is going to stop you!! For those of us who like a good deal or just the thrill of the hunt - outlets offer that and more! More's the variety and something for everybody between FP stores and outlets!
January 14, 2011 9:27 pm
I do not own anything other than Coach. I generally cannot afford them, but that is the one thing that I do for myself. I used to spend $50 bucks a month on a new purse because I was bored with the one I was carrying and it was starting to look shabby. After receiving my first "real" Coach as a gift I could never carry anything else. The "real" Coach purses last forever and have a classic design. The one I am carrying this week I have had for 5 years and it still looks new. I usually only purchase one once a year and still have every one of them. I used to go into a Coach outlet store and it was a total hit or miss but usually a miss. They very rarely had anything Signature and never handed you a 20 or 30 percent off coupon. The last several times I have walked in the outlet the store has been completely full of Signature items but have left very disappointed. The quality has totally changed. I am now not sure whether I want to carry the "C's" as proudly as I once did. The price has significantly dropped and now you can almost get an outlet purse as inexpensive as a knock off (which I absolutely despise). Very, Very saddened by the road Coach has gone and the new knock-offs they themselves have created.
December 21, 2010 4:56 pm
I knew from beginning that the bags from the boutique stores and the factory stores are not the same. But if Coach really can make simpler designs without the bells and whistles and mark them down and sell them in factory stores, I don't see a problem in it. The problem will occur if the quality is compromised. I got my first coach bag from Macys though I am not sure if it is regarded as a boutique quality purchase. But it was of tremendous quality. I used it roughly everyday for 3 years and still its just as new. Only the fabric got a little dirty. I have got factory store items for gifts but never used them myself. May be after 2-3 years Coach will know how satisfied their Factory store customers are. I live in San Jose, CA and it is a big place for Asian community who are crazy about branded stuff. Each and every Asian lady, old or young, has a coach bag hanging from their shoulders. Though they carry a lot of imitations of big brands which are flooded in Chinese market, still they go to Coach Factory Store because of their fascination and love for branded goods. So the thing is if people like us, who cannot drop $400 for a handbag that easily can taste a bit of luxury without carrying a fake, what is so wrong about that?
December 21, 2010 2:18 pm
Thanks for clearing up the difference between a full-priced Coach store and a Coach Factory store. As a gullible consumer and non-fashion savvy like me, sometimes its hard to tell if I really did purchased a bargain. Last year during after Christmas, I bought my mother her first designer handbag ever from the Coach Factory. I was more than happy to shell out my hard earned money for it, and my mother was content from the gift. With that said, flash forward to this year, I plan to get my mother a silk scarf from the actual Coach store. In response to Katie's "I would say that the experience of shopping at a Coach Factory store is VERY different than shopping at one of their full price boutiques." You're right about that. Except I had an opposite experience from yours and I'm not sure if anyone else had the same thing happened to them. Being inside the Coach Factory store numerous times, I've had countless associates come up to me asking if I needed help. This factors into their commission I suppose. Sure it seems like they were rushing people to make their purchases, so shoppers outside waiting in line would ultimately make their way in. But you know what? Those associates tried and on top of that, they smiled and greeted customer within a matter of seconds amongst the crowded store. Now when I stepped in the Coach store the other day planning to look for a perfect scarf, it took some time for an associate to offer help when only 2 other customers were inside. An associate was standing towards the back all by herself doing NOTHING. As I meander towards the purses (was really trying to look at the other scarves placed below it) she then approached me. When mentioning what I wanted, she had this look on her face that wasn't very pleasant and didn't bother showing me what else they had in store that would suit my needs. I went back towards front of the store looking at the silk scarves and another associate asked what I needed. There was some hesitation when I asked for the same styled scarf that was tied to the purse if they had any unopened ones. Furthermore, they didn't have stock in their inventory as the displayed one was dirty. Before leaving the store, I turned my head to see a couple who walked in holding hands looking around the handbags section and the first associate I encountered, walked right up to them in a very chat-like manner. I'm sure not all Coach store employees are that way, but the one I went to only catered to certain type of people. That gave me doubts as to whether I should pay more and receive unfriendly service or pay less and receive friendlier service. Again, this is my personal opinion. I would love to hear other people's stories/experiences as well.
December 10, 2010 4:02 pm
Wow, i just bought three bags from an outlet thinking I bought the real thing....I am taking them back...I would have been glad to buy at full price and that is what I expected...not a lower quality product.....they jsut lost a customer for good!!!
December 8, 2010 3:00 pm
I want to know what's up with the Coach Factory Store's policy of not being allowed to buy more than 5 leather goods or 10 other items at a time. I had this problem trying to purchase bags as christmas gifts for family and friends this year. I could have covered everyone on my list if they had let me. It also happened to another family member recently when she was trying to purchase 12 gifts for her retail shop staff. They were scarves and umbrellas for goodness sakes!! The amount of fussing she had to do to purchase what she needed was ridiculous. Who ever heard of a store that does not want to sell you merchandise especially during the holiday season?! The staff was adamant about the policy even though they acknowledged there was nothing stopping us from coming in the next day and purchasing from another shop girl. I find it all very odd.
December 8, 2010 9:41 am
I would say that the experience of shopping at a Coach Factory store is VERY different than shopping at one of their full price boutiques. If someone doesn't know the difference, maybe it is because they have never shopped at a full price store? At the Factory Store, the service is much less personal and the focus is on getting people through the line so they can buy their stuff. At the boutique, it is much more personal and less rushed. There are more sales associates per customer and they take the time to get to know you and what you would like to buy. It makes sense because you are paying a lot more at the boutique. The boutique has a generous return policy while the Factory store has a more limited one. But this is no different than any other company that has an outlet presence and really doesn't explain it to the customer. When I am at Brooks Brothers or Eddie Bauer or any other outlet type store, there is no gigantic sign telling me which items were made for factory and which items were once at a full price store and now offered at a discount. It is my job as the consumer to figure these things out (if they matter to me). But if a customer is happy buying something at an outlet price, even if it is made for outlet only, why would the company tell them any different? Coach is doing the exact same thing. If someone is happy with a factory bag and they paid a factory price for it, why would Coach go to any length to explain the difference to them? Shoppers to whom such things matter, can tell on the spot which items are factory exclusive and which came from a boutique. So Coach is making everyone happy, as evidenced from their profits. And Niki is right, you should have been offered merchandise credit on the spot for the defective bag at the full price store. If this was not offered to you, you should talk to a manager, etc. The sales associate should know this policy, so I am sorry if it was not offered to you. The repair service that was offered to you is the same process for older full price bags that are damaged. I had a Coach bag that was several years old, I sent to Coach for repairs and they fixed it and returned to me. Not many companies still do that. If it was a newer bag, a bag still available for purchase, they would have switched them out for me. I don't think their return policy is any different from Nordstrom vs. Nordstrom Rack, Off 5th vs. Sak's Fifth Avenue, etc. All of the outlets have a much stricter return policy than their full price stores. As a customer, it is up to me to weigh the benefits and drawbacks. On some things, I am willing to sacrifice the more lenient return policy than on other items. But Coach is no different than any of these other brands in that respect. Yes, Coach is making a LOT of money of these bags. It is rather astounding to see their profit margin! But I don't think their factory strategy is going to bring them down. With all of this demand, quality is going to be the issue that Coach struggles with.
December 8, 2010 8:49 am
Thanks for the comment, Niki. Not surprisingly, we haven't been invited to Coach "Preferred Customer Events," but a couple of thoughts. If Coach Full Price and Coach Factory are really seamlessly integrated brands, why can Coach Factory merchandise only be returned for a merchandise credit at a Full Price store but for a refund at a Factory store? Although Coach does liquidate excess full price merchandise in factory stores, it would rather sell factory-specific merchandise because it's more profitable. Coach appears to be advancing on this goal where recently 80% of the merchandise sold in Factory outlets was "Factory Exclusive," to wit, made for and only sold in Factory stores: "When Coach reported earnings for its fiscal third quarter in April [2010], it cited “significantly higher profitability” in its factory segment because about 80 percent of the goods sold there was made for them, up from 60 percent a year earlier." As branding folks, we're just saying that the elasticity of the Coach brand is not infinite. Despite Coach's understandable pursuit of profit, there is a trade off between delivering different merchandise and customer experience but encouraging conflation of the two under a single brand among consumers. On the other hand, Coach managed to maintain a 78.8% gross margin (GAP, by contrast has a 32.9% gross margin) in its first fiscal quarter this year and and sold $2,112,000,000 of goods in its last fiscal year amid a brutal recession, so clearly its doing something right! And we'll keep on the lookout for the 1 item out of 5 in Coach Factory stores that comes from the Coach Full Price stores.
December 8, 2010 4:30 am
As a Coach outlet and boutique shopper I have a few problems with the information in this article. The Coach store does have sales but they are referred to as Preferred Customer Events (PCE). This is a 25% off card or email that is offered to Coach customers on regular priced merchandise about 5 times a year (sometimes more). Also, outlet shoppers can return items to a Coach store for merchandise credit. While the Coach factory store does sell bags made specifically for the factory, Coach full-price bags are sent to the factory store on a very regular basis because the company is always introducing new styles. The savvy Coach customer knows that a bag featured on the website or in the store will end up at the outlet in 2-3 months.
October 4, 2010 11:48 am
I wish I would have read this article last week! I just purchase my "Coach" bag this past weekend at an outlet in AL. To think that I paid $140.00 for it, WITH almost 60% off really upsets me! UGH! I will never be purchasing from a "Coach" outlet again!.. . Oh and one more thing. If "real" coach bags never go on sale, what do they really do with them??? I know they don't sell them all!
September 22, 2010 6:20 am
After looking over the Coach website, and many e-tailers with the same bags but different images and views, I found myself for the first time at a factory store just yesterday. I looked and looked, and then looked some more. There was something amiss and I could not align my thinking that any of these bags were worth the price tags hanging from them. There was one bag that I recognized from my online perusals, and I considered this bag as my purchase until I worked the zipper only to find that it did not flow smoothly from end-to-end and caught on itself every few centimeters. This damaged bag was not a bargain even @ $50 yet it was four times that price. Your article clears the confusion for me and hopefully many others who might fall under this marketing voodoo. Thank you!
September 7, 2010 8:45 am
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September 3, 2010 3:10 pm
I was so happy thinking that I finally got a coach bag for less. I though the bags were cheaper because they were bags which the stores did not sell or that people returned, (without use) for a different design. Paying $150 & up, is a lot of money even for an outlet store, but finding out that you pay that much without the quality that you expect is to much. Coach is making fools out of people. And we pay for it! Elly
August 18, 2010 8:22 pm
I was actually wondering about the difference between "real" & factory Coach stores after an associate in one of the former told me that my bag was a "factory exclusive". This article was super helpful and I hope that a lot of people read it. It's ridiculous how Coach is manipulating people and I personally will never buy a purse at their factory store ever again after reading this article.
July 8, 2010 12:03 pm
ughh -- I never would have purchased anything had I known this! I was suspicious at an outlet mall but purchased an "F" serial number from a store in Carmel - had no idea it was an "outlet"
July 6, 2010 1:50 pm
Color me hornswoggled! Makes me loath luxury brands like Coach all the more.
Megan Lau
June 30, 2010 3:34 pm
What an incredibly informative article. I detest outlet shopping, but never fully realized why! Now, I am bummed to have my Coach bag in hand today!! What a deceptive brand and we've all fallen for it! AHHH!!
Tnecillim Sdawde
June 25, 2010 3:52 pm
Well, I declare. Now I've heard everything! I am outraged that such a well-known company would be so outrageous. It again shows that money is, indeed, the root of all evil. Thank you blogger for bringing out the truth.
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