Search for Coach’s Tabby handbag on TikTok and the stats will show just how much it has become a crowd favourite. As of press time, the hashtag #CoachTabby had clocked more than 22 million video views on the social media platform – considerable fame for a relatively young style that debuted four years ago during the Fall 2019 season.
Another sign of it hitting celebrity status? Its starring role in an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13 last year, in which participants paraded supersized – and gleefully camp – versions of the Tabby as part of a ball performance challenge. How’s that for some extravaganza eleganza?
The Tabby started out as a top handle design but today spans a variety of silhouettes including this Summer 2023’s oversized messenger bag (above).
First launched as a top handle bag, the Tabby is distinguished by a tab-shape flap (might explain the name) adorned with a vintage-inflected metal clasp in the form of Coach’s letter “C”. A neat and compact shape with rounded edges inspired by the Cashin Carry Chunky shoulder bag – an iconic archival design from the ’70s created by the brand’s legendary designer Bonnie Cashin – completes its utilitarian-meets-elegant appeal.
Today, the Tabby family has grown to also include shoulder bags, pochettes, briefcase-inspired satchels and small leather goods all with the same distinctive details. One of the most in-demand styles is the Tabby 26, a chic east-west shoulder bag measuring 26 X 15 X 8cm – perfect for toting about one’s everyday essentials effortlessly. Its diverse range of colours – from cool neutrals such as a dark grey named “Denim” to girlishly playful candy pink or violet this season – adds to its popularity among the younger set (and, trust us, creative director Stuart Vevers has his finger on the pulse of the next generation.)
This season’s debut: the Jelly Tabby made from environmentally-friendly PVC.
Cementing the Coach Tabby as a keeper for years to come is its craftsmanship. After all, Coach is a fashion house with a rich heritage in artisanal leather bags dating all the way back to 1941. The glove-tanned leather that its founder Miles Cahn developed to possess the hardiness of baseball mittens while feeling supple to the touch, for example, remains synonymous with the brand’s name. (P.S. The material is also known to adopt a beautiful patina with time).
With the Tabby, Coach’s deft hand in working with leather can be said to shine through most with the Pillow Tabby, a shoulder-slash-top handle style with a puffy, highly squishable cushion-like finish constructed from – get this – buttery soft nappa leather. So charming is its cutesy aesthetic that the dedicated hashtag #pillowtabby has raked in over 15.7 million views on TikTok.
Actress Camila Mendes (above) is one of the stars that appears in Coach’s In My Tabby campaign that was lensed by the photographer Charlotte Wales. Other faces in the series are its global ambassador Lil Nas X, Japanese model and singer Koki and Chinese actress Wu Jin Yan.
With Spring Summer 2023, the Tabby might just hit peak adoration on TikTok and beyond. Besides it being the only bag to appear in Coach’s 46-look runway show last Sept, the brand has introduced one of the most fun and youthful versions of it ever: introducing the Jelly Tabby, inspired by jelly-like plastic fashion accessories that were all the rage in the ’90s (remember these, Gen X- and Y-ers?) and available in a variety of rainbow hues.
Adding to its cool is the fact that 55 per cent of the Jelly Tabby’s plastic finish is made with bio-attributed PVC. The latter is a renewable polyethylene, because Coach, after all, is big on protecting the environment.
Another newcomer this season? The softly constructed, jumbo-sized Tabby messenger. Variations of this statement-making bag include a multi-coloured leather patchwork design and one that comes in distressed leather.
To showcase how the Tabby has been reimagined for the new generation of fluid, individualistic fashion lovers, Coach has come up with the ‘In My Tabby’ campaign that features idols of the TikTok generation including Riverdale actress Camila Mendes, the Japanese model Koki and the brand’s global ambassador Lil Nas. Behind the lens was the New York-based photographer Charlotte Wales, known for her dreamy, Renaissance-era filtered visuals. (Check out the accompanying film that sees the personalities sharing about their identity and personal journey – creative or otherwise).
Says Coach creative director Vevers: “I’ve always believed that fashion should be about more than only style, it should be about community, and creating safe spaces where people feel free to express themselves. ‘In My Tabby’ brings together our Coach family and collaborators to celebrate stories of creativity and courage that embody our vision for Coach to inspire people to fully express all of who they are.”
Japanese model Koki with one of the Tabby’s most popular models: the Tabby 26.
Scroll on to see more of Coach’s colourful Spring Summer 2023 Tabby bags. And for a chance to cop one, check out the roving Coach Tabby Shop, which will make four stops across Singapore from now till March 26 and offers complimentary ice cream and games to discover which Tabby best suits your personality.
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