by Samantha Critchell
With the economic downturn, you wouldn’t think it would be an ideal time to launch a new aspirational, luxury collection. But Coach sees it differently.
Reed Krakoff, Coach Inc.’s president and executive creative director, says the brand’s new Madison line of accessories–with an emphasis on soft silhouettes, lightweight leather and feminine touches, such as top handles–could energize consumers.
Other labels are concentrating on retooling their classics, which is a safer approach only until shoppers realize they could make do with what they already have in their closets, he says.
"In this era about fashion, it’s not about updating. It’s about what’s new. That’s what makes it exciting," he says. "People want what’s not out there yet."
Of course, a new collection is in the works for months, sometimes years, so not even Krakoff or a focus group could have predicted the precarious timing. Coach also is rolling out a new printed bag collection called Op Art, based on the bold graphics of the mid 20th century.
"It’s nothing you’ve seen from us before … and you have to stay ahead of the customer," Krakoff says.
That said, no one wants to spend money–and Coach bags cost hundreds–on an item that has a short shelf life. The best accessories are fashion-forward when you buy them and then turn into classics that you can pull out year after year, he says.
With Coach, a 67-year-old American brand, Krakoff acknowledges there’s another balancing act: Playing up its heritage while appealing to a broader (read: younger) audience.
Krakoff says he likes to see teenagers and chic seniors alike carrying Coach.
He puts his money where his mouth is in the new ad campaign that he conceived and photographed himself: It features both rock ‘n’ roll-style model Irina Lazareanu and Iris Apfel, a socialite tastemaker for more than 50 years.
Images courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.