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Coach Has Turned to Mickey Mouse to Boost Handbag Sales

Inside A Coach Inc. Store As Retail Sales Unexpectedly RiseInside A Coach Inc. Store As Retail Sales Unexpectedly Rise
The leather goods store aims to get more luxury buyers to pay full price.Photograph by Bloomberg — Getty Images

Amid an industry-wide slump, Coach (COH) has turned to an iconic character for help: Mickey Mouse.

The implementation of the Walt Disney (DIS) character is part of Coach’s Chief Executive Officer Victor Luis’s plan to revive the brand, making it more “edgy and cool” with pop-culture icons and limited edition products. The company hopes that this will encourage shoppers to not only buy a new handbag, but to purchase it at full price.

And it appears to be working. Since the launch of the Disney handbags on June 17, several of the items have sold out online, including all four colors of the $395 “kisslock” handbags that are designed in the shape of Mickey’s ears. Even the large leather Mickey Mouse dolls and bean bags—which go for $1,500—have sold quickly, according to Bloomberg.

Adding the timeless character to its merchandise comes as Coach is still attempting to restore its status within the leather good industry.

Despite Coach’s boom throughout the last decade, the company slowly came to be seen as a brand for the masses that sold gaudy handbags, rather than a maker of elegant leather goods dating back to 1941. This, on top of expanding its stores to outlet malls, led annual sales to fall nearly $1 billion, and left Coach’s image in ruins, Fortune reported.

 

In 2014, Coach closed 70 of its North American stores, or 20% of them. Growing competition, especially from brands like Michael Kors (KORS) and Kate Spade (KATE), also contributed to sales declines.

Coach’s new limited edition product seeks to win back customers from competitors, and is also a part of its turnaround strategy.

In February, the company announced it was opening a swanky fifth avenue flagship store in New York City. By upscaling its stores, Coach saw it’s sales increase in April; It was the first time since late 2013 the company didn’t see sales fall. And at the beginning of the year, Coach agreed to pay as much as $574 million to buy women’s footwear maker Stuart Weitzman, as a means to further boost sales and help its sliding profits.

But how much Mickey Mouse bags and other new products can lift Coach’s brand is to be determined. Even though the Disney items are meant to be edgy and sophisticated, they have more appeal to foreign tourist compared to domestic shoppers, according to Bloomberg. Despite this, Coach’s rebranding process is not over yet.

“It’s kind of endless — you can’t say we’re finished,” Luis told Bloomberg. “There’s still a tremendous amount to do.”

Fortune has reached out to Coach for comment and will update the story if it responds.

 

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