The designer will collaborate with the storied retailer on its gifts, home and accessories collections for 2017. Tiffany design director Francesca Amfitheatrof will continue to oversee the firm’s jewelry division. Both will report to Tiffany chief executive officer Frederic Cumenal.
“Drawing on the world’s most exciting creative talent is quintessential Tiffany. Reed has a unique and celebrated vision for iconic American design, which perfectly complements our brand,” said Cumenal. “Reed’s expertise and creativity will serve to reinvigorate these important collections for our portfolio.”
“I grew up with [Tiffany], it’s a brand that has a lot of strong emotional attachment, I have an emotional attachment. To be able to contribute to the heritage and history of a global brand that combines design, quality and craftsmanship is really rare today and I think Tiffany is a leader in that. To be part of that is really exciting to me,” said Krakoff, who begins his consulting role today.
The designer’s new position will encompass a multitude of product categories — handbags, leather accessories, sunglasses, tabletop (including hollowware, porcelain, glass and crystal), baby, travel, key rings, writing instruments and silver accessories among them. Product will launch next year. Krakoff will also partner with Tiffany’s visual merchandising and advertising teams on concepts for his products’ display and marketing.
His appointment is the latest chapter in Tiffany’s campaign to elevate and modernize its brand, which began in 2013 with the appointment of Amfitheatrof. In the last 12 months, the company has introduced new streamlined design families, contracted Grace Coddington as a creative partner for its ad campaigns, launched a retail tie-up with Dover Street Market, and began selling on Net-a-porter.
Tiffany has battled the same headwinds buffeting luxury goods firms worldwide. In May, the company reported that net earnings for the first quarter ending April 30 fell to $87 million, or 69 cents a diluted share, from $105 million, or 81 cents a diluted share, a year ago. Worldwide net sales declined 7 percent to $891 million and comparable-store sales fell 9 percent.
According to the firm’s annual reports, watches, leather goods, non-jewelry sterling silver pieces, tableware, stationery, fragrances and accessories represented a total seven percent of global net sales in each of the 2015, 2014 and 2013 fiscal years.
Krakoff said he intends to meld elements of classic Tiffany design with his own influences in his work for the brand. “It’s going to be an amalgamation of historical Tiffany icons and my own modernist taste, and looking at that through a lens of how things are made, of quality, craftsmanship,” he said.
He has already spent time in the company’s archives, peeling through artifacts from Tiffany collaborations with design kingpins including Frank Gehry, Paloma Picasso and Jean Schlumberger. “As I spend more time going through the archives, things will begin to crystalize,” said the designer.
Until now, Krakoff was not able to exercise his well-known affinity for interiors on a broader commercial scale. While he is best-known for crafting leather goods at Coach and his own, now shuttered, namesake label, his biggest aesthetic hobby has always been industrial, interior and objet design. The pastime had been evident in smaller-scale projects, like curating an exhibition at Sotheby’s, publishing design books with Assouline and Rizzoli, and serving as a contributing editor for Architectural Digest.
“It’s something I’ve worked on quite a bit in my own life but never in a big business — it’s been part of my life but not part of my professional life,” he said.
In working with Tiffany, Krakoff will again join a publicly listed American fashion firm — a pressure he says he is “used to.”
Tiffany’s wide range of price points — which in jewelry escalates from silver charms all the way to couture pieces — will also be represented in Krakoff’s work for the brand. “I think the offering will address multiple price levels and is something go to apply to a broad range of consumers. Tiffany is the ultimate luxury in jewelry and also has more accessible categories — what I’m working on should follow the same kind of assortment,” he said.
When he closed his own ready-to-wear and accessories brand in March 2015, Krakoff said he would be looking to do other things in design that would reflect the modern landscape of how consumers shop today. In that vein, last November he introduced an accessories collaboration with Kohl’s, simply called Reed.
While initially meant to be a short-term agreement, Krakoff said he is in talks with the mass retailer about continuing their relationship.
“The Kohl’s deal is going very well — it was the biggest accessories launch in their history,” he said. “They are very enthusiastic about continuing — and we are as well — we are talking about what a future may look like together, adding some categories. It’s one of the really incredible things to be able to work in the broad sector of the market — it’s incredibly interesting and there are things to learn from every area of the market.”