Mulberry CEO: We Have To Remain Relevant
“WE have to remain relevant,” was the message from Mulberry CEO Thierry Andretta this afternoon following the brand’s announcement that it is adopting a direct-to-consumer approach. As of September, it will come off the London Fashion Week catwalk schedule for one season and hold appointments with press to show its spring/summer 2018 collection, returning to its usual runway format as of next February to debut the same collection and be “in season” thereafter.
Mulberry Goes Direct To Consumer
“We were finding that more and more our customer was reaching us from the internet and didn’t want to wait for the product and so we are moving to specifically target the digital consumer in a structured way,” he said.
The move comes as the model has had mixed reactions in the industry, with some stepping away from it after only two seasons. Many, however, have stuck with it – Burberry and Topshop among them. For Andretta, the shift comes after the British brand has been surveying the scene for some time. It has tested out making capsule collections immediately available after its catwalk shows to success, according to the executive, and has experienced a surge in demand for product worn by influencers and celebrities that it could not fulfil with its existing set-up.
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“In February last year we showed a pair of shoes on the catwalk and in May at the Cannes Film Festival Marion Cotillard wore them – not on the red carpet, just out informally,” Andretta gave as an example. “The following day, we had hundreds of phone calls asking when they would be available and we had to say they had to wait three to four months. In the end, the return on that product was not positive as they didn’t want it any more when it became available.”
The brand is in a strong position to handle the operational changes that shifting to a see-now, buy-now model will bring, he continued, as it has its own infrastructure in the UK with its signature leather goods category. As for the ready-to-wear element that the brand has invested in recently, designed by creative director Johnny Coca, it will work closely with its licensees to make sure the transition is smooth.
“Ready-to-wear will work exactly the same way as leather goods with drops and deliveries. We will coordinate them together as we have a lifestyle approach and they need to be available at the same time,” he explained. “There is a lot of coordination to do by our marketing manager and by Johnny’s team, but we are ready to do it now. We only signed the ready-to-wear licenses a year ago, so we needed to give it time and now we know how that works.”
For Coca, it marks the first time he will be able to see the immediate pick-up in the collections he designs, having previously worked at houses where the traditional format was employed – something Andretta believes will be rewarding for the Seville-born designer.
“Johnny is supporting it. From his point of view, it is frustrating when you see your customer wants the product you have created and you’re not able to give it to them,” said Andretta. “He validated the decision and is behind it.”