In April 2023, with a mission to help advance a circular fashion system, Coach launched Coachtopia. Grounded in the brand’s Made Circular design philosophy—a set of three principles that inform how the sub-brand designs, crafts, and reuses products—and harnessing more than 80 years of Coach leather expertise, Coachtopia reimagines the product lifecycle from end to beginning, reducing the creation of new materials by crafting with waste and designing products that can be reimagined, remade and recycled to live multiple lives. In so doing, it is working to create beautiful things that have a significantly reduced impact on the planet compared to conventional luxury products.
Now, Coachtopia invites its global community to embark on a journey towards fashion’s circular future with The Road to Circularity—a new docuseries that goes behind the scenes of Coachtopia to shed light on rarely documented aspects of the global fashion industry. Launching today with its first episode, hosted by visual storyteller, sustainable fashion advocate and Coachtopia community member Aditi Mayer, the series charts a course across the globe to discover the extraordinary people and partners who are collaborating with Coachtopia to develop the ideas that are making circularity at scale a possibility. From the outset, the series takes a frank look at the problems facing the fashion industry and the mindset shifts required to tackle them—to pioneer circular solutions for the future.
“Since the founding of Coachtopia, we’ve been working closely with a wide range of inspiring young leaders through our Beta Community—and we have heard how frustrating fashion’s lack of transparency can be to this generation,” says Joon Silverstein, SVP, Global Marketing and Sustainability at Coach, and Head of Coachtopia. “That’s why we launched this docuseries The Road to Circularity—to go places where fashion doesn’t typically go, to explore the challenges facing our industry, and to show what it means to reconsider the usual fashion narratives and systems with circularity in mind. We’re excited to share our work-in-progress because we know that to tackle climate change, we can’t be afraid to take bold if imperfect steps—and to be honest about how far we have to go. It’s our way of using brand storytelling to shed light on bigger issues and to spark conversations that have an impact beyond Coachtopia.”
In Episode 1, “Making with Waste,” we join Mayer in Chennai, India, to visit KH Exports, a family-run leather manufacturing company that has been working with Coach since 1987—and which Coachtopia has challenged to reimagine Coach’s leather waste as a unique raw material. As Mayer follows KH’s craft processes, from the careful sorting of waste in its “leather scrap yard” through to product prototyping, material design, production and more, she not only explores the possibilities of making with waste but uncovers the personal stories of the community of designers, craftspeople and producers that are tackling some of these challenges with passion and ingenuity.
As she does so, she learns more about the innovative techniques behind Coachtopia’s Upcrushed™ Upcrafted Leather, which, using heat and pressure, transforms irregular scraps of leather waste leftover from Coach production into beautiful, suede-like materials, each with a unique pattern and finish. She also discovers the many ways in which the path to circularity requires both brands and consumers to challenge perceived notions—for example, the idea of “perfection” in fashion. “It’s startling to think that, because of our cultural mindset around perfection, the natural grain of leather can be seen as a defect, leading to more waste,” says Mayer, as she talks to members from KH’s production team. “It makes me realize that circularity is not just about changing the way we make, but changing the way we think.”
As the series continues, The Road to Circularity will continue to tell stories like these—with the goal of helping to accelerate change by challenging the predominant narratives of how fashion is produced and consumed.
“Coachtopia began with the inquiry of whether we can minimize the use of virgin raw materials in fashion,” says Mayer. “It’s been fascinating learning about how that quest translates to every part of the supply chain: from sorting, designing, to quality control. It reveals how circularity isn’t just a shift in operations, it also demands that brands and storytellers alike champion a new culture: one that rewrites how we view ‘waste.’”
Episode 1 of The Road to Circularity, made in partnership with production company Special Order and director Christina Burchard, will be released today on Coachtopia’s social channels with the next episodes to follow later this year.
Launched in April 2023, Coachtopia is a sub-brand focused on circular craft and collaborative creativity, catalyzing the brand’s progress towards a fully circular business model. Harnessing more than 80 years of Coach leather expertise, Coachtopia reimagines the product lifecycle from end to beginning—reducing the creation of new materials by crafting with waste and designing products that can be reimagined, remade and recycled to live multiple lives.
Watch the episode here. —Vita Daily