By  on February 23, 2009

The executives at Coach are looking at the bright side of the dreary fiscal predicament.

The New York-based accessories brand is offering a new collection, Poppy, with a more youthful attitude and broader price range. Bright colors, prints, sequins and rainbows of crystals are just some of the design elements offered in the collection, which retails from $198 to $598. The average Coach handbag sells for about $500.

The collection is not quite a departure for the brand, but rather an extension, according to president and executive creative director Reed Krakoff. “Poppy offers a different attitude that is younger in spirit,” he said. “It’s playful, with more prints, interesting fabrics and more experimentation. [These ideas] are always countered with a more classic shape or a more traditional construction.”

The line is cohesive but has a diverse range of items, from a tote covered in a profusion of red sequins to “Gossip Girl”-worthy tiaras to pochettes covered in strands of gold beads. There is also footwear, watches, eyewear and select apparel items such as sweaters in the collection, which debuts in July in Coach boutiques, department stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s, and on

Krakoff was adamant the line isn’t trend-driven, but it is sensitive to the mood of the season. He does not consider it a diffusion line either. “We feel very good about Poppy as a new opportunity,” he said. “It’s going to excite the existing Coach customer, as well as draw in a lot of age groups. It’s been a fun exploration of who the Coach woman can be.”

The line will be promoted in store windows starting this summer but will be merchandised in with the full Coach assortment.

Krakoff said many of his peers find themselves in a predicament in this challenging recession: whether to offer classic goods or rev up collections with daring concepts. His goal is to bridge the two directions.

“It’s a delicate balance,” he said. “Of course, you don’t want to be too trendy, but that’s nothing new for Coach. But you can’t cop out and just be classic. It’s not going to inspire people. You need to keep it wearable and understandable and have a great quality and price value relationship.”

Coach is credited with a focus on “accessible luxury,” but the paradigms of luxury and fashion have shifted, Krakoff explained.

“To me, luxury is the culmination of thoughtful design. I don’t know what luxury means anymore to people,” he said. “A lot of people give Lew [Frankfort, Coach chairman and chief executive officer] credit for coining the term ‘accessible luxury.’ Like anything that starts out as a good idea, it gets overused. It’s meaningless in its former definition. Prices need to make sense. Shopping has to be fun. People are in a store for a reason. They want to be transported.”

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