The brand was launched in 1998 by the mother-daughter team of Bonnie and Abby Held, with Abby designing and Bonnie running the business end. In 2007, private equity firm Swander Pace Capital made an undisclosed investment in the company and is now the majority stake holder.
The bags are often crafted from leather and are known for their signature shape, hardware, and variety of colors. Bags are often named after celebrities and other notable figures. One of the brand's best selling bags is the Sienna, named for actress Sienna Miller.
In 2007, Kooba launched a collection of contemporary fall tops. The brand also includes jackets and outerwear.
Because of the popularity of the Kooba brand and the high prices attached to their products, there is a significant amount of counterfeit merchandise produced and sold, some of which ends up on online retail and auction websites such as ebay. Authenticity can sometimes be determined by the presence of these characteristics:
- Tags are two-sided and folded with a string connected in a corner
- Certificate of Authenticity is included with each bag
- No plastic on the handles
Kooba in popular culture
Celebrities who are known to own a Kooba handbag include actresses Jennifer Aniston, Sienna Miller and Kristen Bell, as well as singer Avril Lavigne.
Kooba bags appear on a number of television shows on the Bravo network including "The Fashion Show" and "NYC Prep." Kooba designed exclusive colors for its bags, and the cast members got to pick their favorite. The bags will be sold on Bravo's website.