Reed Krakoff masterminded brand reinvigorations at Coach and Tiffany, two of the New Yorkiest companies there are. So what’s he doing at John Hardy, a jewelry marque founded half a world away in Bali?
“It’s a brand that I knew really well when I first moved to New York,” says Krakoff, who holds the newly created role of creative chair at John Hardy as well as strategic advisor at its parent company L Catterton. “It was and is all made by hand in Bali, by a community of artisans. And it’s incredibly special to have that these days.” The company’s signature pieces are distinctive, made from woven sterling silver, nearly all of which is reclaimed. But not unlike Coach and Tiffany when Krakoff landed at those institutions, the brand’s icons were getting drowned out by a lot of other stuff, none of it as singular as its classic chain.
Krakoff got started at John Hardy in September of last year, and has moved quickly, launching new collections that put his clean, modern, New York-y stamp on things, while accentuating what’s Balinese about the brand. “Bali has this surf culture, and that sensibility is a big inspiration for me. We’re kind of teasing out what is unique about the brand and what’s unique is its laid-back coolness.”
His first offerings include the Colorblock collection’s range of friendship bracelets (if friendship bracelets were strung with neon enamel, semi-precious stones, and sterling silver beads), and the Pebble group’s organic-looking pendants, which look like hip younger sisters of Elsa Peretti’s Tiffany teardrops. There’s also a Surf collection whose curving wave-like forms are a nod to Bali’s famous beaches.
Not unlike Hardy himself, who founded the company in 1975, Krakoff has a fascination with how things are made. “For me, this was a huge opportunity to work with the community he created. He started with nobody, with zero, and built this over 30 years to almost 500 people,” Krakoff says. “But it can’t just be about technique, craft, and artistry,” Krakoff points out. “There has to be a design sensibility.”
This week, Krakoff is releasing his newest collection for John Hardy, and it shows off that design sensibility. Named Spear, it’s his first stab at the brand’s famous woven chain, which he’s modified by adding a dynamic bypass silhouette featuring an internal titanium wire that gives it its flex. The resulting bracelets and chokers look polished, while remaining easy-wearing, which gives them their broad appeal. “Everything is shown on women and men and that’s really the approach,” Krakoff says. “I can’t remember a time when jewelry was so genderless.”