By  on October 26, 2007

Reed Krakoff is playing scientist and today, he opens his laboratory to the public.

Krakoff, Coach Inc.'s president and executive creative director, has been putting the finishing touches on the Coach Legacy store, the first of what could be many intimate boutiques for the $2.6 billion megabrand.

The 1,200-square-foot store at 372-374 Bleecker Street in Manhattan's West Village — the signage reads Coach Leatherware, with a vintage horse-and-carriage logo — showcases a mix of offerings ranging from the brand's namesake fragrance at $78 to a matte alligator satchel for $20,000. The Legacy store could be the foothold Coach needs to compete with European luxury powerhouses Louis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci.

"Fashion bags are selling for $895," said Krakoff, pointing out that there is little price resistance when it comes to handbags.

The average price for a Coach bag is slightly more than $300, but styles such as the Lily, which starts at $1,198, and the Bleecker, topping out at $748 for the largest size, are almost sold out.

Coach declined to make a sales projection, but an industry source estimated the store might bring in $1.4 million to $3 million in sales in the first year.

Shoes, jewelry, outerwear, gloves, hats, dog accessories, small leather goods and sweaters from Coach's knitwear collaboration with Lutz & Patmos are available at the store. All product categories are intermingled on the sales floor for a casual, but elegant feel.

"It's an entirely new concept," said Krakoff, who noted that this isn't a "subbrand," but a way for younger fashion-savvy types to experience the world of Coach. "This is a road map for us."

One quarter of the merchandise is exclusive to the Legacy store and it has the feeling of the late Coach designer, Bonnie Cashin. Missing are the bread-and-butter basics, such as the monogram "C" logo signature handbags.

Krakoff delved into the Coach archives last year and found himself inspired by Cashin, who designed for the company in the Sixties. He then created the Legacy collection, with retail prices slightly higher than typical Coach product, featuring exotic skins such as ostrich and alligator styles. The turn-lock closure and a colorful stripe print that Cashin created have been updated and incorporated into the line.

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