With the announcement of Coach changing their name to Tapestry, I must say I’m a bit disappointing. I would have thought that they would have come up with something a bit snappier.
At Coach Inc., which is famous for its leather goods but has become the holding company of an increasingly ambitious fashion group, the name of the game is now … Tapestry.
On Wednesday, the accessible-luxury group that owns Coach, Stuart Weitzman and Kate Spade announced its intentions to change the name of its parent to Tapestry Inc., the better to express its new shape as a multibrand entity with a variety of unique properties, as opposed to one dominated by a single brand.
“It’s a wonderful metaphor for what we believe in, which is individual threads of different colors all working together to create a picture,” said Victor Luis, the chief executive, waxing a little poetic.
Such semantic change has become something of a corporate trend. The Coach Inc. rebranding follows Google’s decision to restructure and name its holding company Alphabet in 2015 and Tribune Publishing Company’s reinvention as Tronc last year. Next up will reportedly be the Weinstein Company, as it attempts to distance itself from its disgraced co-founder, Harvey Weinstein.
But in Coach’s case, the change also reflects what has become an escalating race to create the first American Fashion Group — or, as Mr. Luis styles it, “the first New York Fashion Group.”
The name change, after all, follows Coach’s 2015 acquisition of the Stuart Weitzman shoe label for up to $574 million and its purchase of Kate Spade for $2.4 billion in May. And in July, Coach’s rival Michael Kors acquired Jimmy Choo (a brand that Coach was reportedly also considering acquiring) for $1.2 billion. John Idol, the Kors chief executive, told The New York Times that it was “the beginning of a strategy that we have for building a luxury group that really is focused on international fashion brands.”
By rebranding Coach Inc., Mr. Luis is hoping to send a signal to potential targets in the $80 billion global premium fashion market that “this is a home that is not limited to any category, channel or geography.”
While Mr. Luis declined to say how many more threads he anticipated adding to his particular tapestry, he did note that one of the requirements for the new name was that it demonstrate inclusivity.
“We embrace our differences, whether they be race, gender, sexual orientation or belief systems,” he said. Mr. Luis added that while Tapestry was currently composed of brands based in the United States, he was open to acquisitions in Europe and Asia.
To that end, the name was also intended to clarify the differences between not only Tapestry and Kors but also Tapestry and potential European competitors like LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (the owner of brands like Vuitton, Dior, Givenchy and Fendi, and the world’s largest luxury group by sales), Kering (Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci, among others) and Richemont (Chloé, Alaïa, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels).
“I’m not here because I’m anyone’s son,” Mr. Luis said by way of example — an apparent veiled swipe at François-Henri Pinault, the chief executive of Kering, whose father, François Pinault, founded that group.
Then he said, “We are not a group that believes there is a single country where products have to be designed or manufactured,” a reference to the insistence by European groups on the importance of origin — that there is equity in “made in France” or “made in Italy.” Finally, Mr. Luis said Tapestry would include the results of each of its brands in its annual reports, as opposed to lumping them together into a single entity, as LVMH and Kering do with some of their brands.
Still, Tapestry is following in Kering’s steps in at least one way: In 2013, the French group, too, changed its name (it had been PPR), to reflect its transformation from retail and luxury to a luxury and sports lifestyle group.
That choice involved an invented word (pronounced like “caring”) that refers to the word for “home” in Brittany, France, where Mr. Pinault’s family is from. It was in line with other notable rebrandings like Andersen Consulting’s switch to Accenture (a shortening of “accent on the future”) and Kraft’s move to Mondelez (a combination of “monde” and “deliz”).
Mr. Luis said it was important for Coach to find a name that, unlike those moves, “wasn’t too corporate-y or made up, that was easy for everyone to understand.”
The search took two to three months and was conducted by the Carbone Smolan Agency. A list of thousands of names was winnowed to “tens,” which were then tested for legality and cultural associations in the brands’ key global markets.
“We were surprised Tapestry was still available,” Mr. Luis said. The one catch: a concern that tapestries could be seen as old-fashioned, and possibly even elitist, associated as they are with European history and palaces. Ultimately, though, the word’s suggestions of craft and handwork outweighed the negatives.
Of course, there is at least one other reference associated with “Tapestry.”
“For anyone who is aware of the album, Carole King does come up,” Mr. Luis acknowledged, referring to the 1971 record. (He admitted that he had it at home.) “But we discovered most millennials had not heard of it.”
Besides, it is not turning “Tapestry” into its theme music. “We will not be playing it in the office,” he said.
The name change officially goes into effect Oct. 31. Tapestry will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TPR, as opposed to the former COH.
This article was originally posted on the New York Times website.