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NEW YORK — Coach is taking a major step toward creating a men’s lifestyle brand with the launch of a full men’s footwear collection.

This story first appeared in the August 4, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Come September, all global Coach stores will exclusively carry the footwear, which includes 15 new styles with price points ranging from $175 to $495. Wholesale sales will begin a year after the launch.

“We’ve had men’s shoes in our stores in the past but haven’t gone after a full collection until now,” said Greg Unis, Coach’s senior vice president of men’s global merchandising. “The goal for launching the footwear is to continue to grow the lifestyle expression of our brand. There’s such a natural connection between leatherwear and craftsmanship, the cool aesthetic we have, and bringing that collection is the natural next step.”

The footwear line includes boots, sneakers and monk straps that are made of mostly Italian leather and suede. The designs have lug soles, welting trim details and aims to “mix casual with dressy,” Unis said. The collection is produced in China.

Coach is planning to aggressively grow the footwear business, following on from the launch of men’s watches last November. Over the last four years, Coach’s men’s division has grown to sales of $700 million from $100 million. Men’s now comprises 14 percent of Coach’s total sales of $5 billion.

Though men’s is a growing part of the business, there are no plans to open men’s-only freestanding stores. Instead, Unis said that the existing stores will “carve out more space for men’s.

“When you walk into a store, you see men’s and you see women’s and it’s complementary to each other,” he said. “We’re now seeing that couples shop together and that men like their own shop as well. It’s all about creating the overall Coach lifestyle.”

With the expanded men’s footwear offering, Coach is on track to create a lifestyle brand in the category, just as it is in women’s. The only piece missing is ready-to-wear.

“We’re launching a full collection but we’re not far off from its imminent future,” Unis said.

Sources said Coach would unveil a men’s rtw line as early as February during New York Fashion Week. Asked if the speculation was true, Unis replied, “We can’t confirm nor deny. We’re really still working through it. What we do know is that from the business today we see that the customer wants us to expand into categories beyond bags and leather goods.”

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