Marketing 50

Coach

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Coach has high fashion in the bag today, but it wasn't always so. The brand, known for its hardy leather handbags, had fallen into a rut by the mid-1990s as consumers turned to more fashion-forward fare like Kate Spade.

Enter Reed Krakoff, who joined the company in 1996 as president and executive creative director. During his watch, Coach has expanded into new materials including fabric and straw, added shoes and new accessories, and even clothing.

The company also traded in its previous campaign for a more fashion-oriented effort. The latest ads, shot in-house, feature only product. For the last fiscal year, ended June 28, Coach net sales were up 35% over the previous year.

In a conference call with analysts, Coach executives said they've chosen to put Mr. Krakoff front and center in its contact with the fashion press to amp up the fashion image of the brand.

"The intention is to gain additional editorial space as we raise a consciousness that Coach is a designer-lead business," says Michael Devine III, chief financial officer.

New customers are spending 20% more on Coach products than before. "Our franchise has never been stronger," says CEO Lew Frankfort. "We're finding that consumers are accepting the broader world of Coach."

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