Reed Krakoff’s Successful Ascension, will it last?

Reed Krakoff has probably understood that Coach’s profitable growth would have its downsides. While Chinese fabricated Coach bags priced competitively, it also condemns the brand from achieving a high fashion status. Reed Krakoff might have had this in mind whilst creating his own luxury label when he decided to produce his wares in the Far East. Though his eponymous clothing are made in Italy and the U.S., we were a bit surprised to see a “made in China” tag inside the renown designer’s bags and accessories.

All in all, it makes perfect monetary sense: China is known for its ability to produce anything and everything on the cheap, though by the same token it isn’t synonymous with luxury. Not that a Chinese produced ware could not compete with French or Italian craftsmanship but the “made in China” label still equates to “mass production”, which kills any sense of that  “I own a unique luxury piece” feeling.

Meanwhile Reed Krakoff case is pretty unique, Given his role at Coach, whose advertising dollars are nothing to sneeze at, Reed was able to secure ample press coverage in major publications. Combined with a successful first collection shown during the Fall 2010 New York Fashion Week, Reed launched ready-to-wear clothing alongside bags and accessories, shoes, jewelry, sunglasses and even watches.  With a store on Madison Avenue, another one in Tokyo and Las Vegas, as well as visibility in  influential retailers like Net-a-Porter.com, Colette in Paris and 10 Corso Como in Milan, Reed  is poised to rise to even higher luxury plateaus.

Country of origin aside, his meticulously detailed handbags featuring a signature Art Deco-inspired logo, are beautifully made in light of their actual retail prices. His starting price for a well-mande leather handbag is around $600 and for a little over double, you can get a leather tote bag featuring exotic skins. Meanwhile, accessories and handbag kingpins such as Louis Vuitton will often run clients around $2000 for a similarly designed leather bag, whereas  exotic skinned bags usually begin at a $5000 price-line.

Reed Krakoff has probably seduced many lovers of Proenza Schouler PS1 and Hermes Birkin bag aficionados with his Ps1/Birkin hybrid “Boxer bag”. The Boxer is definitely a deal for Birkin lovers that can’t afford an Hermes piece, while having the advantage of feeling both  fresh and modern in its take on the tote bag.icon
iconAs for the clothing line, they can be compared with other luxury designers with similar price ranges. Style-wise, it has a luxurious, utilitarian feel whose homologues are Chloé and Céline. They are appealing and quite expensive, but like most luxury brands the main focus is on the accessories.
Time will tell if Reed Krakoff can remain relevant as a luxury brand, bypassing any brand altering image “opportunities”, such as opening an outlet. As of today, the result of opening Coach outlet has only resulted in it generating bigger buyers revenue than the actual Coach stores themselves.

We believe that the Reed Krakoff bags would have sold starting at $1500 with a “made in Italy ” label. In the long term, elevating prices to more reasonable ranges would have elevated the brand’s image as being one of the premier American luxury brands. Reed stands to learn this lesson from those that see the writing on the wall;  Alexander Wang, whose namesake has less “luxury brand” pretensions, announced at his Fall Winter 2011 Fashion Show that his formerly  “made in China” production will soon move to Italy.

Shop Reed Krakoff via Net-a-Porter.com

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