What’s Next For Burberry?

What’s Next For Burberry?

Christopher Bailey transformed Burberry from the brand no one wanted to wear into the label at the forefront of fashion innovation and ingenuity. Now with Ricardo Tisci at the helm, our Fashion Editor asks, what’s next?
Photography: uk.burberry.com

It takes a lot to change the public’s perception, so turning Burberry from a label no one would touch into a global powerhouse was no mean feat. The man responsible for this transition was Christopher Bailey, who cut his teeth at Donna Karen, then Gucci. Creative director of Burberry since 2004, as well as CEO of the label since 2014, he's credited with not only its brand transformation, but its business development too, with a peak £2.5 billion revenue in 2014.

How? For starters, he ditched the then-infamous check print, focusing instead on the label’s British heritage. Dramatic updates to the classic trench ensued – think lacy evening iterations, irresistible double breasting and cashmere versions – coupled with bright young British stars fronting campaigns. Names like Edie Campbell, Sienna Miller, Eddie Redmayne and, of course, Cara Deleveigne helped redefine what the Burberry name stood for, combined with under-the-radar English artists enlisted to perform in shows and a FROW peppered with high profile UK names. 

On top of desirable product and branding came the pioneering combination of technology and fashion. Under Bailey’s stewardship, Burberry was the first luxury brand to advertise through Snapchat’s Discover channel function; premiering runway collections through the app. They joined forces with blogging sensation The Sartorialist for a digital campaign, The Art of the Trench, live-streamed fashion shows and created viral videos (remember Romeo Beckham’s Christmas film short?) to engage young, digitally savvy customers and create unrivalled online buzz.

There’s no doubt he’ll bring an altogether different star power to the Brit brand’s proceedings.

Bailey unexpectedly stepped down at the end of 2017, and with his successor, Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, named today, many are speculating about the future of the label. At the time of Bailey’s resignation, the brand's now-CEO Marco Gobbetti unveiled a new luxury strategy, seemingly following the Gucci model of adding affordable, cult products to the roster. This is in line with Tisci’s hypebeast reputation – Mario Ortelli, Senior Analyst of Luxury Goods at Stanford C Bernstein told the Business of Fashion: “The contemporary street style orientation of Riccardo Tisci is a great match to relaunch the image of Burberry”. And, certainly, with creative links to the likes of Jay Z and Kanye West, there’s no doubt he’ll bring an altogether different star power to the Brit brand’s proceedings. An existing relationship with Gobbetti can only help matters too – the pair worked together at Givenchy, no doubt setting the precedent for a duel creative vision.

With an Italian at the helm, it’s unlikely that once-necessary Britishness will still be at the forefront of the brand, but with technology driving Burberry's globalisation ever forward, perhaps that’s no longer relevant anyway.

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