Next month Italian designer Riccardo Tisci will unveil his vision for Burberry with his first London Fashion Week catwalk show as the British brand’s chief creative officer. What can we expect?
The former Givenchy creative director was clearly brought in to breathe new life into Burberry – the UK’s biggest luxury player has faltered in recent seasons. And taking the reins of an established brand provides an opportunity for a designer to make an impact, and I believe Tisci should boldly lay the foundations for a new direction from the word go, as he did when he joined French fashion house Givenchy as creative director in 2005.
Tisci has already rebranded Burberry. A clean, modern logo in a striking sans serif font has replaced the previous heritage-style serif trademark. A new, retro-feel monogram has also been unveiled: British graphic designer Peter Saville, who is famous for his work with rock band Joy Division, and most recently rebranding Calvin Klein under Raf Simons, has created an interlocking monogram from brand founder Thomas Burberry’s initials.
Burberry’s first rebranding in almost two decades is already stretching across its social media channels and website. The cool collaboration with Saville and departure from the brand’s classic branding shows Tisci is not afraid to take Burberry into new territory.
Expect the new Burberry monogram to feature heavily, channelling the return to logo-mania successfully rolled out by other luxury brands, such as Gucci and Fendi.
Tisci is also abandoning the “see now, buy now” strategy instituted by former chief creative officer Christopher Bailey. Only a few selected pieces will be available immediately after September’s catwalk, in what chief operating and financial officer Julie Brown describes as a “fresh delivery cycle”: “It is a new model for engaging customers. It’s a move to a creative-led delivery cycle. We will have more regular, smaller collections throughout the year. It will be exciting and unexpected.”
Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti (who also hired Tisci at Givenchy), drew attention to the designer’s “skill in blending streetwear with high fashion [as] highly relevant to today’s luxury consumer”, so it is safe to say the new Burberry will tap into fashion’s current love affair for all things street – a trend that could be attributed to Tisci himself at Givenchy.
Burberry has also outlined plans to bolster its luxury proposition, so Tisci will draw on his skills at blending those street-inspired touches with luxury elements, as he did with aplomb at Givenchy. His top-end – ie top-priced – luxury hoodies and T-shirts became cult bestsellers, but he also successfully married these with embellished and embroidered tailoring, eveningwear and gowns, so we will also see some red-carpet-ready showstoppers.
On the side
Handbags, shoes and accessories will almost certainly be a focus, too. Burberry has never quite cornered this competitive and crowded market, but Tisci is skilled in this area. From his Givenchy sneakers, to “It” bags such as the Nightingale and Antigona, through to the famous silver shark-tooth necklaces, I’m sure the designer will bring some buzz – and sales – back to Burberry footwear accessories.
So is Tisci totally ripping up Bailey’s legacy? Tisci’s Burberry is likely to be tougher, edgier and sexier than his predecessor’s. The announcement of a collaboration with British designer Vivienne Westwood, whom Tisci has described as the “original British punk” on a range of “re-imagined iconic styles”, could give some clues.
Will this be Tisci’s route into “Britishness” and heritage dressing – predictable Burberry themes – but referencing Westwood’s early punk era and other retro tropes? Or will collaborations such as this, with an archetypal British designer and brand such as Vivienne Westwood, tick off the Brit angle and leave Tisci free to do what he wants with his main line?
Any designer debuting their first collection in a new role will want to make an impact – especially in today’s social media-driven world. Tisci is well versed in courting attention, whether it be through his choice of (often diverse) models, the staging of his shows or his famous friend-packed front rows, so expect some A-listers at London Fashion Week – a Kardashian or two at the very least.
Even so, there will be lots of hype surrounding the first collection, but it will – as always – be about the product. Tisci certainly has the skills to reposition and re-energise Burberry – as he did alongside Gobbetti at Givenchy, but with competition tougher than ever, Tisci has a tough job on his hands.
What the experts predict from Tisci’s Burberry
Ida Petersson, womenswear buying director, Browns
Although I was a big fan of Christopher Bailey’s work, it’s always exciting to see someone new come in and make some noise. Tisci felt the perfect candidate to shake things up. He did an amazing job reinventing Givenchy while still staying true to the brand. He was part of the first wave of designers making the logo T-shirt and sweatshirt a luxury item, so I look forward to seeing what he does at Burberry. I’m already a big fan of the new branding, so I’m excited for what else is to come.
I hope that, as he did with Givenchy, he takes a deep dive into the archive, which is then deconstructed. Simultaneously, I think shoes and bags are the two categories that have the most potential, so I hope that they too are part of his overall vision and expansion plans.
Damien Paul, head of menswear, Matchesfashion
I thought Tisci was an exciting choice. It will be an interesting collaboration both creatively and commercially. As a designer, he pioneered a street-savvy shift within the luxury menswear sector that now seems so normal. I am intrigued to see how he recreates this magic at Burberry.
Like it or not, you cannot deny that Tisci created a phenomenon. When his printed T-shirts first came out, including the rottweiler, doberman and shark print versions, the menswear industry experienced a dramatic spike in male shopping patterns. This was the birth of cult product in menswear: items that would come online or in store and sell out instantly.
His designs were masculine, sporty and signify a moment when our industry began to talk to a wider demographic of men who had the means to buy an extremely expensive T-shirt or hoodie from a designer label.
I’m expecting the collection to be quite a dramatic departure from what we’ve seen from Burberry under Christopher Bailey. Tisci’s overall aesthetic is darker with gothic references, and nods to streetwear and subculture. I’m excited to see how he blends these elements with the traditional English charm of Burberry.
Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying director, MyTheresa
We are very excited about Ricardo Tisci joining Burberry. He is known to create a cult aesthetic and hit, must-have products from his Givenchy days.
I believe with his vision and the heritage of Burberry he can create something totally new and exciting across all categories.
I very much hope he will keep his “street cred”, which was so iconic to him and Givenchy as a whole. I also hope he holds on to, in some form, the subculture elements of Britain that Burberry has been creating for the past few seasons in such an iconic way.
Anusha Couttigane, principal fashion analyst, Kantar Consulting
What’s interesting about Tisci’s time at Givenchy is the utter commitment to exclusivity he insisted on. While other luxury brands have gone through a period of democratisation, Tisci’s Givenchy had always been very true to its couture roots. Despite Tisci often being credited with bringing elements of street culture into his collections, Givenchy did not compromise on its brand positioning. This means that, for younger consumers interested in or considering buying into the luxury world, Givenchy is not always front of mind. Tisci’s Givenchy did not always need to have “mass fashion” appeal. What he did do, very successfully, was always ensure the brand maintained its star quality.
From the announcements we’ve seen recently, I think it’s safe to say that reinvention will certainly be part of the Burberry mission, but it will be reinvention with a nod to heritage, which has always been important to Burberry.
Tisci’s aesthetic could do some very interesting things for Burberry. Burberry is a brand that stands for classic tailoring, quintessentially British styling, clean lines, neutral palettes, high quality and highly wearable designs that appeal to the everyday wearer. By contrast, Tisci is known for avant garde design, subversive styles, gothic symbolism and religious motifs. For this reason, he was actually a very “un-Burberry” choice, but Burberry is a brand that could do with a bit of a shake-up.
Luca Solca, head of luxury goods, Exane BNP Paribas
I think the big task for Riccardo is to reinvent the Burberry story. Burberry has become easy to predict and somewhat boring. There’s a need to make the brand relevant again, avoiding the chav pitfalls of the past. Leather goods is [an] area where they could further grow, but it won’t be a walk in the park, given the fierce competition in this space.
Emily Gordon-Smith, head of fashion, Stylus
Despite my initial surprise, I’m really excited to see what Tisci produces at Burberry. The first collection since he joined, for pre-spring 19 [which was designed by the in-house Burberry team, but “curated” by Tisci], was only a taster but seemed to demonstrate that there will be an interesting play on heritage going on. It also looked really commercial. The designs had a broader youthful and cool appeal – 1980s punky tartans, denim with check turn-ups – while retaining an element of tradition.
Burberry has also released its refreshed branding, inspired by an original monogram from the archive, which I think is brilliant. It’s refreshing, youthful and fantastically British. Again, there are clear nods to broader British popular culture: youth and music, mod, 1960s heritage … it’s traditional but feels really fresh at the same time.
For his first full collection I’d like to see more play on the Burberry heritage and really see how far Tisci can take that.