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In 1961, Coach hired Bonnie Cashin, a pioneer of American sportswear, to give the leather house a big push into women’s fashion. A winner of the Coty and Neiman Marcus awards, Cashin was known for designs that were chic and elegant as well as practical and easy to wear, heralding a new freedom in dress for American women. She brought that sensibility to Coach, where she worked until 1974. Her innovations included: pockets, zippers and fun colors; sportswear pieces; numerous accessories beyond leathers, and what would become a house staple: the Duffle.
This story first appeared in the September 26, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.