The Ultimate Guide to Coach Serial Numbers
Have you ever wondered what those numbers inside your Coach bag are? Or if they actually mean something? And if they can they help you authenticate a bag you bought second hand? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, or you would just love to brush up on your Coach serial numbers, keep reading!
Serial numbers in luxury designer bags can often be an important factor when authenticating an expensive item you bought online, found at the thrift store or bought from anywhere other than the official brand store. Some brands give every single one of their bags a serial number, which is an individual number that is unique to the specific bag, and this is what Coach did, until 1994. Then, everything changed. Coach bags don’t have an actual “serial number” anymore, but what they do have is a “style number” combined with a few extra numbers that are actually way more useful than an actual serial number. These numbers are what we will be focusing on today.
Here is what we will cover in this post:
- Where to find these Coach numbers.
- What they mean.
- How they can help you authenticate a bag.
- What exceptions and deviations to be aware of
(That’s right, the first rule of Coach Club, is that there are always exceptions to the rules.)
WHERE TO FIND THE COACH SERIAL / STYLE NUMBERS
The first place to look for a Coach style number, is on the Coach creed patch, sometimes also called the Coach story patch. This is the little leather patch inside the bag which also features a small text about the Coach brand (the creed), the materials of the bag or sometimes even something special about the style of bag in which it is found. On earlier bags, the creed was stamped straight onto the leather.
Here is what the creed stamped straight onto the leather can look like:
And here is what the number looks like, stamped onto a creed patch:
However, here is the first exception to the rule! Sometimes, you will have a Coach bag with a creed patch that does not have a number on it at all. But fear not! Your bag (probably) does actually still have a number, you just have to do a little bit more work to get to it. In 2014, Coach momentarily started putting the style number of the bag on a small white tag sewn into the bag, rather than on the creed patch. Look carefully! They can be hard to find as they are small and often way down in one corner of an inner pocket. They did this until 2016. So, bags from 2016 can have one or the other type of creed patch.
Here is what a genuine creed patch without the number can look like:
And here is what the small white tag looks like:
But what if you open your Coach bag to find no number on the creed patch and no small white tag inside? There are 3 possible explanations:
- Your item is a fake
- Your item is one of the few items in which Coach simply does not put numbers in
- Your item is a genuine Coach bag that was made and used for promotional photo shoots etc
No number in a Coach bag is a rare occurrence, and could be a sign that the bag is not genuine, but it does not have to mean this.
There are a few items in which Coach does not put numbers, usually very small ones. So, if you have a small wallet, card case or very small purse with no number in it, do not worry. Just because it doesn't have a style number in it, it doesn't mean that it does not have a style number at all. If you know the style name of the item, you can often find out whether it is supposed to have a number inside or not, by doing a quick google search. If your item still has its original price tag on it, you can sometimes find the style number of the item on that.
Here are a few examples of small genuine Coach items that do not have a creed patch inside:
Another reason for no number could be that the item you have received was one made for promotional photo shoots and display pieces used by Coach for press purposes. These are often produced before the actual production starts of that specific model and therefore do not have a style number added. These bags do sometimes end up in the reselling market, via previous Coach employees.
Here is a little summary of where to (usually) find the serial / style number in your Coach bag, for reference:
FORMATS OF THE NUMBERS
As opposed to a serial number, the Coach style number actually gives you a lot of information about the bag in which you found it. It contains information about the month, year and place the bag was manufactured and then of course, the style of the bag.
Coach first changed to the new system in 1994, and there have been a few different formats of the number since then.
Between 1994 and 2006:
In bags from 1994 to 2006, the format was usually a letter, followed by a number and a letter, then a dash followed by a four-digit number.
Here is an example: K8P – 9870
From 2006 to now:
The format then changed to a letter followed by four numbers, a dash and five more numbers.
Here is an example: B1980 – 38124
Here is a picture, for reference:
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS MEAN?
So, lets break down these numbers and letters.
The first letter signifies the MONTH in which the bag was manufactured, the following number represents the YEAR of manufacture and the following letter or number represents the PLACE of manufacture. Everything after the dash is the STYLE NUMBER of the bag.
Check out this picture to get a better idea:
Time of manufacture:
The first letter denotes the month in which the bag was manufactured. So, an A would mean that the bag was manufactured in January, B in February, C in March and so on. One thing to note about this is that they do not use the letter “I” as they didn’t want to have it confused with the number 1. That means that September, October, November and December are given the letters “J”, “K”, “L” and “M” rather than “I”, “J”, “K” and “L”.
The following two digits denote the year in which the specific bag was manufactured. This is pretty straight forward, but can get a little confusing when dealing with bags manufactured in the 90s or early 2000s. The number 4 was given to bags manufactured in 1994, the number 5 for bags manufactured in 1995 and so on, until the year 2000, which was given the number 0. 2001 was given the number 1, 2002 the number 2 and so on, but then in 2004, they changed to the format “04”. It would have been a lot easier to make that change starting in 2000, am I right? I made a little list you can use for reference to not get these early numbers mixed up.
Check out these lists for clarification of month and year codes:
These numbers in front of the dash are specific to the individual bag, not the style in general, so this part is actually more similar to something like an actual serial number. Of course, the same letter and numbers will be added to all the other individual bags manufactured in that location and at that time, so still not quite a real serial number.
With this information we can then deduce that in the example K8P – 9870, the bag was manufactured in October 1998, and in the example B1980 – 38124, the bag was manufactured in February 2019.
Place of manufacture:
The last letter or digits before the dash denote the place of manufacture. I don’t have any confirmed information about the exact locations or plants that were assigned specific letters or numbers, but if you have a look around the internet, there is some information about it, however it may be a bit contradictory at times. However, the specific meaning of these specific letters or numbers rarely play a crucial role in the authentication process, but can of course be helpful at times.
Now, to the last and probably most important part: The style number. Each style of Coach bag has its own number. This means that all the bags of that style will carry this number, even if they have different colors. An example of this is the style number of the classic Rogue 31. You will see the style number 38124 in Rogue 31s in many different colors. However, if you have a certain model of bag that comes in different versions such as a plain one and one with rivets, they will usually have different style numbers.
A few exceptions to the rule:
While the examples above are the most common formats, there are a few exceptions. You have probably all seen a style number with the letter F in front of it. Like this: M1592 – F36704. This is what the style numbers made for the Coach outlet stores look like. F is for Factory. These bags are often referred to as Factory Outlet bags and these bags are genuine Coach bags, they just happen to have been made especially for the outlet store rather than the retail store. Now, the difference between Coach retail and Coach outlet bags, and whether the quality of the retail bag is higher than the outlet bag, is a whole other discussion so we will leave that for another time.
On very rare occasions you might see other variations as well, such as the addition of a “P” which denotes a “Pilot” bag. This means that the bag was part of a “first run” of a certain model of bag sold in the stores. This could have been done to see how well the model would sell before starting production of it. So if you get a Pilot bag, it might be a rare bag depending on whether the model was put into production or not after the trial run, and at the very least, you know you have one of the first ones made.
This brings me to another thing you might run into. The Coach sample bags. Once in a while you might come across a Coach bag which has “00000” stamped instead of a style number. Sometimes, the characters before the dash will be replaced by zeros as well. These bags are usually Coach sample bags and can be very special bags. If you want to learn more about them including what makes them special and how to find one, check out my blog post about this topic here.
Here is an example of a genuine Coach bag with a "00000" style number:
The last example I will bring up is not actually a style or serial number but something that is often confused with a style number. In early versions of the Rogue, Dinky and Saddle bag from the 1941 collection, you might find a number on the creed patch that looks like a serial or style number but is not. They look like this:
- RG – 20315
- DK – 20215
- SD – 20115
As you might know, “RG” means “Rogue, “DK” means “Dinky” and “SD” means “Saddle”. These numbers are not exactly style numbers and are not very useful when authenticating, so if you see these on a creed patch, have a look in a small pocket inside the bag for a small white tag, like the one I talked about earlier. This is where you will find the actual style number and manufacturing dates of the bag like on other Coach bags.
Here is an example:
Here is an overview of the most important exceptions to remember:
HOW TO AUTHENTICATE A BAG WITH THE SERIAL / STYLE NUMBER
I hate to break it to you, but you can’t. At least not with the number alone, but it is one of many important factors to take into consideration when checking the authenticity of a Coach bag, and as I explained earlier, this number can give you a lot of useful information and is actually in many ways way more useful than an actual serial number.
The two most important parts of the number is the style number and the year of manufacture. These can help you authenticate the bag in a few ways. First and foremost, check that the style number inside the bag is an actual existing style number and that it matches the style of the bag. For this, Google is your friend. Write “Coach” followed by the style number and do an image search. If the style number is accurate, you should see a bunch of image results of your exact style of bag. Remember, they might be different colors, but as long as the model is the same, this is a good first step towards authentication. For example, if we google the style numbers from the examples above, we should find that the number 9870 belongs to the Coach Court bag and the number 38124 belongs to the classic Rogue 31. So, if the bags that these numbers came from are not these models, it's a bad sign.
If you bought a bag that still has its original price tag on it, you can also compare the style number on the tag with the style number inside the bag. Of course, if these two are not the same, there is a problem. Don’t forget that what you see on the creed might not be the actual style number and that not every price tag has the style number on it.
The year of manufacture can also be helpful. If the year of manufacture shown in the bag does not add up with when the specific style of bag was made, something isn't right. This could be if the year of manufacture is marked as 2016, but this specific style of bag wasn’t put into production until 2020. Or if you see the year 1998 stamped onto a more modern creed patch, for example. You might need to do some googling to find out when the specific styles were actually made.
Please note that while looking at the information in the style number and doing these searches can be a very valuable part of the authentication process, it cannot make up the entire process. If you want to make sure your bag is authentic, you need to look at several different factors and not focus solely on a serial or style number. And of course, should you have a bag with the "00000" number, it is even more important to look at other factors for authenticity.
Okay, that is everything for now. I hope you have found this guide helpful! Let me know what you think, in the comments below. Don't forget, you can go back and look at the pictures and lists, or pin them to your Pinterest boards, for reference, for the next time you are authenticating a second hand Coach bag. If you would like to learn even more about authenticating Coach bags, stay tuned on this blog as I will be publishing lots of useful articles about all the different aspects of authentication for specific brands.
Note 1: I always work very hard to keep my articles updated and make sure that the information in them is accurate and up to date, but if you notice something missing, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Note 2: I am not able to reply directly to comments here so if you have a question regarding the blog, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.