Reed Krakoff sits in the art- and book-filled office he uses for his new namesake brand, and reflects on the last year.
It’s been a busy few months. In a relatively short period of time, Krakoff created the concept for his new brand, which will be unveiled with a runway show on Wednesday; designed the line of utilitarian sportswear, luxurious leather handbags and shoes, and oversaw the production process, which is now culminating with first samples arriving at his 516 West 34th Street base. Krakoff has done all this while fulfilling the duties of his other job as president and executive creative director of Coach, the iconic American brand he helped reinvent into an accessories giant over the past decade.
Where other designers may show signs of stress or runway jitters, there is little room for such sentiments chez Krakoff. On this day, and several days later during the blizzard that brought much of New York City to a halt, Krakoff is the picture of calm.
“There’s an expression: ‘Water finds its level,’” he says. “If it’s something you really feel passionate about, you find a way.”
Passion is something Krakoff has exhibited over the last 13 years at Coach, where he, in tandem with Lew Frankfort, chairman and chief executive officer, has played an instrumental role in transforming a dusty, $500 million American leather goods label into a $3 billion powerhouse — in the process, creating a business model that many peers looked to emulate, but to which none have managed to come close.
At Coach, Krakoff describes his role as a brand architect, successfully filtering his design vision for the accessible luxury brand through the Coach lens and its needs to address a geographically and demographically diverse customer. For the first time in a career that took him from Parsons School of Design to Anne Klein with Narciso Rodriguez, and then to Polo Ralph Lauren and to Tommy Hilfiger, Krakoff is able to express his own vision, pure and unadulterated, and, better yet, with Coach’s financial prowess behind him.
The Reed Krakoff company is a wholly owned division of Coach and, as such, represents another avenue of potential growth for the parent group.
To those who know Krakoff and his affinity for art, architecture and industrial design, it comes as no surprise that his vision is built on the utilitarian ideals of American sportswear. He hopes to evolve the Seventh Avenue ideal with an injection of sensuality for his new designer brand.