This Major British Brand Just Radically Changed Its Strategy

Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
One of the bigger heritage names on the London Fashion Week calendar won’t be showing next season — and other big business changes are happening at the label, too. Mulberry, which most recently made us swoon with its fall 2017 duvet coats, has decided to sit out the catwalk going forward. Instead, the brand will sell its wares via the in-season, “see now, buy now” model.
This new strategy will roll out in September, when Mulberry will hold by-appointment previews of its spring 2018 collection — two sets of previews, to be exact: U.K.-based editors will get to see the collection in London, while international editors and buyers will check it out in Paris. Then, that spring 2018 collection will go on sale during London Fashion Week come February (which is when other labels still sticking to the traditional, six-months-ahead cadence will be trotting out fall 2018 designs.)
"Mulberry has always been focused on offering a real and accessible lifestyle,” Thierry Andretta, CEO of Mulberry Group, said in a release. “The shift announced today enables us to continue to drive engagement and increase our relevance to our customers.” While a number of brands have tried out (and, in some cases, already ditched) the “see now, buy now” model, Andretta thinks the setup will stick for Mulberry, because the majority of its sales are made in its own stores and on its site; just 10% of the label’s revenue came from its wholesale accounts. Mulberry has tried out a number of strategies in recent years to boost sales: In 2013, the brand raised prices and attempted to skew more upscale; a year later, it rolled out a new range of moderately-priced handbags (and got Cara Delevingne to front its campaigns) as a means of increasing revenue.
Interestingly, Mulberry took a break from the catwalk few years ago, too. The brand tapped a buzzy new creative director in late 2014 — Johnny Coca, who’d been at Céline previously — and resumed runway showings after taking a two-LFW hiatus, with Coca’s first collection for Mulberry. Granted, the brand’s focus and heritage is in handbags, considering 90% of its sales are generated by leather goods. But it’s still a big name on the London calendar to eschew the runway in order to test out the in-season instant gratification — and, possibly, more robust sales — associated with the “see now, buy now” approach, like Burberry did (without forsaking the catwalk showings) back in February 2016.

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