American women are abandoning a longtime status symbol — and brands like Michael Kors, Coach, and Kate Spade are trying to catch up

Coach store

A designer handbag was once viewed as a status symbol for teen girls.

But according to a recent study executed by Goldman Sachs and Teen Vogue, most brands that design accessible luxury handbags are “falling flat,” and becoming less and less appealing to so-called “it girls.”

These “it girls” Goldman Sachs and Teen Vogue polled are influential young women in fashion, ages 13-29.

Goldman Sachs says these ratings are a “predictive tool,” meaning we can expect more women to spend less money on designer handbags going forward.

In particular, brands like Longchamp, Coach, Tory Burch, and Michael Kors — designers with iconic handbags — are losing their sparkle. According to the report, their “affinity” ratings dropped from last year, meaning that smaller percentages of fashion-forward girls are compelled to shell out for their fashions.

Coach is in particular is losing its status as a luxury brand. According to Goldman Sachs’ report, it’s the most “well-owned” brand among it girls, followed by Michael Kors bags, meaning that it is more widely available, and therefore, less exclusive.

Coach handbags were the most-owned by the entire national sample set polled by Goldman Sachs.

If everyone has it, it simply cannot be exclusive anymore.

Michael kors store

When a brand loses its level of exclusivity — and it’s available at bargain bin prices — it doesn’t make much sense for anyone to shell out $US600 for a bag, let alone cool girls.

This, however, is not shocking to anyone who has followed Michael Kors’ and Coach’s recent trajectories. Both are available in outlet stores, non-luxury department stores, as well as in their own flagship stores.

“Coach is a classic example of a company that became a victim of its own success,” wrote Håkon Helgesen, a retail analyst at equity research firm Conlumino. “Its products became ubiquitous — something that sits uncomfortably with the concept of luxury, where a degree of exclusivity needs to be maintained.”

Coach has been working to undo the damage; it has been updating and renovating stores, and scaling back on its promotional environment. But that doesn’t mean that it will suddenly become cool in the eyes of fashionable and influential young women.

But, the handbag industry is dim in comparison to other industries. More of the cool young women polled by Goldman Sachs and Teen Vogue love athletic wear brands and beauty companies.

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