Marketing 50

Coach Wristlets

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Before Reed Krakoff joined Coach in late 1996 as creative director, the luxury accessories marketer wasn't known for its cutting-edge fashions. Today its colorful line of leather goods is a constantly-evolving portfolio of must-have items, including the now ubiquitous Coach Wristlets.

Mr. Krakoff, 41, now president and executive creative director, is largely credited with a company turnaround, which has included four straight years of double-digit growth due to items like Coach Wristlets.

Piper Jaffray senior research analyst Neely Tamminga says Wristlets are "just another example of Coach creating a new usage category that resonates phenomenally well with consumers. Reed is very much a style genius."

Style mixed with business acumen (Mr. Krakoff was a dual art history and economics major at Tufts University) has helped Mr. Krakoff develop new, seemingly must-haves like additions to their basic handbags. "The Wristlet has definitely set us apart as a brand," Mr. Krakoff says.

The small wrist-held bags intended to hold basics like money and lipstick (inside a bigger bag by day, alone by night) are now a staple of Coach's lineup, featured in the same new styles as its larger bags. New $118 pleated wristlets, for example, are intended to be paired with Coach's new $498 pleated hobos. And, as does everything with now-fashionable Coach, Wristlets are changing to meet changing needs-growing to fit another fashion staple, the BlackBerry.

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