Well, I wasn’t expecting this! I was really hoping for Phoebe Philo at Burberry, but it appears the rumours that she’s not going anywhere else following her Celine departure are true. So news broke today that Riccardo Tisci will replace Christopher Bailey as chief creative officer of Burberry from 12th March.
It will be a relief for the internal teams. Having a directionless brand is not good for morale, and Tisci certainly has form for reinvention and strong, decisive branding. He also understands the power of modern digital communication, coupled with a network of zeitgeisty celeb friends. Kim Kardashian for the next Burbs campaign? Don’t rule it out.
Burberry’s most recent direction has targeted a younger, international consumer – think Asian and Russian hypebeasts who can afford to spend £1,600 on a Gosha X Burberry trench. It’s a lot younger and cooler than in the past. Burberry needed the shot of energy, although there are still fears that the track pants and excessively done Burberry check are a ‘chav’ touch too far.
But looking at this recent Hypebeast Korea shoot featuring boy band Winner wearing the latest collection (below), you can clearly see this has appeal to the emerging younger-millennial luxury customer-in-the-making. Remember, they weren’t there the first time round so contextually it doesn’t have the connotations that it might for an older customer. To them, it’s a retro British look, so a different kind of heritage than trad Burberry, yet just as valid.
Anyhoo, I’m not sure Tisci will continue this trajectory. He will want to put his own spin on things, and so he should. But what will that look like? I put the question to a handful of fashion industry pundits (sorry, it’s my new fave word) and here’s what they came back with. Please add your thoughts below…
“Ricardo Tisci was in his day a revolutionary at Givenchy but that was 2005. Hindsight being 20:20 vision, the brand seemed to get stuck in a ‘millennial’ facing trajectory and a design rut and subsequently went into freefall. It would be unfair not to give Tisci a few seasons at Burberry to impress upon us if his absence from a major fashion house has reinvigorated his creative DNA. I have to admit he wouldn’t have been my first choice but I guess only time will tell.”
David M. Watts, Founder, Wattswhat Magazine
“Bailey turned the Burberry brand around. He led the way in digital marketing, retail spaces and show spectacle. But it was this juxtaposition of the modern with the utmost respect for tradition that differentiated Bailey. His work with traditional British craftsmen – from lace makers to embroiderers – was outstanding and justified the prices of luxury products in a way that many brands cannot. Logo mania is surely not worth the thousands consumers are expected to pay while 50,000 individually stitched peacock feathers is. Tisci is disruptive and has gained headlines and a celebrity following accordingly. Burberry needs fresh blood, and needs to be disrupted again, rather like when Christopher first began. But will his gothic and street sensibilities chime well with Burberry’s customer? Perhaps more interestingly, there is a whole new generation, and customer, with Burberry in Tisci’s hands. It’s time to court Generation Z.”
Rosanna Falconer, Digital Strategist & Luxury Brand Consultant
“It’s the same old people rotating round all the big brands (mostly men). Burberry needs some fresh blood to keep up the ground-breaking thinking that Christopher Bailey has created. Fashion is no longer just about clothes, but innovative marketing, social media, influencer engagement etc. Is he up to that?”
Jane Kellock, Founder and Creative Director, Unique Style Platform
“I’m excited to see where Tisci could take Burberry’s accessories offering. I’d love to see something innovatively or artisanally crafted, or a completely fresh motif; something that’s ultra covetable and truly iconic.”
Natalie Hughes, Director, The Fashion Digital
“I loved Givenchy back when all the rottweiler prints happened. It was something new and bold but quickly became a little samey. That’s not to dampen Tisci’s design talent, he’s obviously very talented, but what we don’t want is that ‘fashion fatigue’ at Burberry. Is Tisci just good at one thing? Will we see the birth of dog print check? Who knows! But it’ll be an interesting time at the heritage brand. Hopefully he’ll reimagine lots of the now-stuffy stuff at Burberry.”
Simon Glazin, The Very Simon G
“This appointment changes the game for Burberry. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a departure from the London Fashion Week show schedule for a return to Milan. I’m also very interested to see how the runway-to-retail philosophy sits with Tisci and Gobbetti’s new vision of luxury fashion for the brand. And I imagine Bailey’s gritty view of Burberry Britishness leaves with him. It’s all to play for.”
Alison Tay, Editor in Chief, Grazia Middle East
WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
LAST IMAGE: WINNER wearing the Burberry February Capsule collection in Hypebeast Korea, photographed by Sasu Tei
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