At John Hardy, a ‘More Sinuous, Sexy’ Jewelry


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Jun 19, 2024

At John Hardy, a ‘More Sinuous, Sexy’ Jewelry

Advertisement Supported by Reed Krakoff, who took creative control almost a year ago, has gone beyond the brand’s traditional woven silver look in his first collection. By Tanya Dukes It has been


Supported by

Reed Krakoff, who took creative control almost a year ago, has gone beyond the brand’s traditional woven silver look in his first collection.

By Tanya Dukes

It has been almost a year since Reed Krakoff took creative control of the artisanal jewelry brand John Hardy, and the changes he envisioned have begun to build momentum — from more varied designs and materials to a broader aesthetic reach.

The 48-year-old brand had been offering “a lot of variations on one look and not a lot of choices for customers,” Mr. Krakoff said. “There is a point when you have to expand and evolve the look because the customers already have what you’re selling.”

And he has broadened the creative inspirations of the brand, long known for its ties to the island of Bali in Indonesia and the region’s metal weaving traditions. Mr. Krakoff turned the focus to what he called a “less literal imagery of Bali” and a more “global take” on Balinese beach culture and the environment. “It’s more about a kind of confident optimism, this idea of nature — surf and sky and the outdoors — a sense of well-being, a sense of travel and discovery,” he said.

Mr. Krakoff joined the label in September 2022 as its creative chairman, a role created for him, to lead a total reimagining of the brand, from jewelry to “any copy, any visuals, anything that the consumer touches,” he said. He took a minority equity share in the brand, and was named a strategic adviser to the majority owner, the investment firm L Catterton, on brands in its portfolio, which include Etro and Birkenstock.

“I love the ability to move around and work on the big picture, but also get into the details,” he said.

Mr. Krakoff, 59, is accustomed to getting the call when a brand needs a serious buffing. During his tenure at Coach, where he served as president and executive director from 1996 to 2014, the label went from a solid (if possibly stodgy) leather goods business to a full-fledged fashion and accessories brand. He led his own eponymous fashion brand from 2010 to 2015, then, after it closed, joined Tiffany & Company as chief artistic officer, a lead design role that extended to every aspect of the company and included a seat in the executive suite. Mr. Krakoff left after LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton acquired the company in January 2022.

At John Hardy, he is guiding a brand that has carved out a distinct niche since its Canadian-born founder established the business in 1975. Sustaining the knowledge of traditional Balinese hand-weaving techniques has been a fundamental part of the company’s ethos and marketing message. All of its silver, gold and handwoven jewelry is produced by a collective of more than 400 artisans at its Bali workshop while approximately 350 craftspeople in Bangkok focus on gem setting — creating an aura of authenticity around its operations. The results are sold in more than 500 locations globally, primarily department stores and multibrand jewelry retailers in the United States and Canada, including a flagship store in New York City.

Designs reflecting Mr. Krakoff’s direction for the brand began trickling out this past spring, and initially were available only from John Hardy stores. By May new pieces were being showcased in the Hamptons, that popular destination for summer escapees from New York City. Five fashion and home décor boutiques in the area, including Todd Snyder in East Hampton and Ryland Life Equipment in Sag Harbor, have been the sites of summer-long pop-ups. “It was a good opportunity to expose the brand to a targeted customer,” he said, “people who maybe knew the brand but hadn’t thought about it for a while.”

The offerings included wrap bracelets combining lengths of the brand’s signature hand-woven silver with leather straps, and the new Colorblock collection, featuring elongated beads in silver, hard stone and enamel.

The collection reflects Mr. Krakoff’s emphasis on color in a variety of materials, principally enamel and semiprecious stones like lapis lazuli, malachite, onyx, jasper and agate.

Although color had been used only sparingly in the past, Mr. Krakoff said it is in keeping with the brand’s essence because “saturated color is really part of the spirit of Bali.” (The brand’s dark packaging also is receiving a color blast, changing to a combination of ivory and a vibrant marigold color.)

Though the brand will add more gold to its offerings, the majority will continue to be produced in silver. According to Robert Burke, founder of the luxury consulting company that bears his name and a former fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman, the brand’s strength in sterling silver makes the moment especially ripe for exploitation.

“As many other brands are moving into gold and precious stones, I think there’s a big opportunity in silver,” Mr. Burke said. “It can address how people live today. In the luxury world, even the luxury customer doesn’t always want to wear diamonds and gold.”

Orit, the mononymous chief executive and founder of The O Group, a New York City-based branding agency whose clients include the jewelry companies Mouawad and Chow Tai Fook, said she has been observing the John Hardy revamp from two perspectives: “as a client and with my branding hat on.” (A self-described “John Hardy nut,” she has amassed a collection of more than 30 pieces over the past 15 years.)

She said she had noticed the emphasis on color, and believes that novelty is crucial to reeling in the next generation of clients. “It catches the eyeballs of a younger group,” she said. “And once they love the brand, they’re open to the other collections.”

And, she added, novelty might energize existing clients, too: “If you have more than enough pieces that you have collected through the years, you might be excited about having a new look but being true to your designer.”

The first collection developed entirely since Mr. Krakoff’s arrival, called Spear, was introduced this month. He described it as the “most evolved” reinterpretation of the brand’s signatures, with necklaces and bracelets in the bypass style (ends coil and loop rather than forming a closed loop). They feature the woven precious metal chain that the brand is known for, but adapted with a flexible titanium core into what the designer called “a more sinuous, sexy piece of jewelry.”

Spear is being sold at some of the brand’s retailers, including Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, and the New York flagship, whose renovation in keeping with Mr. Krakoff’s vision will be unveiled during the first week of September. Updates to the 1,100-square-foot flagship will include an area where some pieces can be customized, a bar that serves tea from the brand Bellocq and a double-sided interactive mirror that shoppers can use to create social media posts. Another pop-up is scheduled in Miami in October, and the brand’s revamped website is to be introduced this fall, too.

John Hardy is a relatively lean operation compared to the billion-dollar corporations where Mr. Krakoff has worked in the past. The company does not disclose its revenue, which Mr. Krakoff placed at “more than $100 million and less than one billion” — but Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute, a management consultancy in New York City, said, “It’s probably closer to $100 million than a billion.” He added, however, that the jewelry industry’s evolution may work in the brand’s favor: “Since branded jewelry is carving out a larger percentage of the market, there is space for them to grow.”

He said the smaller scale of the business actually had been advantageous to change, “however, it’s always counterbalanced by how many fewer people there are working in the company.”

Still, the absence of bureaucracy, he noted, has allowed him to make significant progress without sacrificing consideration of the creative process: “We have gone fast, but I can say the amount of thought and work that went into it was as much as — if not more than — I’ve spent at bigger brands.”

Mr. Krakoff’s role was not the only leadership position at the company to be recast recently. Jan-Patrick Schmitz, a former Richemont executive, became chief executive in August following the departure of Frédéric Levy after less than six months in the role.

“We’ve been full speed ahead,” Mr. Krakoff said. “I have a good relationship with Jan-Patrick as he onboards, and I am excited to work with him going forward.”

The brand’s agenda for 2024 has been filling up fast. Mr. Krakoff said that a significantly expanded men’s collection, including personalized and customized offerings, would be released and that the Cinta line, the brand’s highest-priced pieces featuring gold and gems, would resurface. “Really, we’re only at the beginning,” he said.