Return Of The Trench

I know what you’re thinking… since when has this not been the case? Aren’t trench coats always on-trend, especially now, in January, just as we have spring in our sights and want to invest in outerwear that will serve us well into the warmer months?

Trench coats never really go out of fashion and, for the most part it has remained true to its heritage in classic camel-coloured gabardine but, this season, they’ve been given a renewed lease of life.


The street-style crowd has already embraced the vinyl trench, for obvious reasons: It’s an easy, sleek way to make a powerful statement. To make it work it real life, don’t wear anything too crazy underneath — the coat should draw the bulk of the attention.

Marco Gobbetti Named CEO at Burberry

British luxury brand Burberry has announced that current chief creative officer and chief executive Christopher Bailey will become the company’s chief creative officer and president, handing over the title of chief executive to Céline’s Marco Gobbetti, as part of an ongoing business review.

Bailey, who was appointed chief executive in October 2013 in addition to his duties as chief creative officer, will add the newly created title of president and oversee all elements of brand and design, working in partnership with Gobbetti, who will join the company next year. Shares in Burberry jumped 7.9 percent on the news, their strongest day in three years.

“I am very excited that Marco Gobbetti is joining us as chief executive officer and as a partner to me,” said Bailey in a statement. “Marco brings incredible experience and skills in luxury and retail with him that will be invaluable to us… On a personal level, I know that we are going to enjoy a wonderfully collaborative partnership that makes me very excited for our future at Burberry.”


Christopher Bailey

Both Bailey and Gobbetti will report to Burberry chairman John Peace. In a separate statement, Burberry also announced it had appointed Julie Brown as chief operating and financial officer. Brown will join the company in early 2017. Carol Fairweather, Burberry’s current chief financial officer has decided to step down after 10 years in the role to pursue new opportunities. She will help to manage the transition following Brown’s arrival and leave at the end of its financial year.

In a statement, Peace said: “I am delighted that Marco will be joining us to work alongside Christopher in his new role as we embark upon the next chapter in our 160-year-old success story. He has an outstanding track record of delivering growth in the luxury industry and his vision for the sector and how it will evolve is extremely impressive. The board firmly believes that these new leadership roles coupled with actions, identified in the recent business review, will significantly enhance our ability to deliver long-term sustainable growth and sector outperformance over time.”

“Since taking on the combined role of chief executive and chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey has done an excellent job set against a backdrop of challenging market conditions,” Peace continued. “The review that he has led into our ways of working is the blueprint for the next phase of Burberry’s evolution. In order to maximise our ability to successfully implement these plans, Christopher identified the need for a new chief executive for the business who could partner with him as we execute on the new strategies and I am excited to see what they will do together.”

Gobbetti is currently chairman and chief executive of French luxury brand Céline, a position he has held since 2008. He has worked in the industry for more than 20 years, having previously worked at Givenchy and Moschino.


Celine SS16 Campaign

Burberry has struggled in recent quarters due to a sales slowdown in Hong Kong and mainland China, plus lower sales in European capitals as tourist shoppers stayed away from Paris following last year’s attacks. In May, the company reported a 10 percent drop in annual adjusted pretax profit. Bailey’s total pay package also fell to £1.89 million for the year ended March 31 2016, down from £7.5 million the previous year.

Luca Solca, head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas, called the Burberry shake-up positive. “All in all, this is a step forward for Burberry, where we perceived a need of reinvention and stronger direction,” Solca told BoF. “The first issue to be tackled was to eliminate the joint role. This will be done in 2017. More could change further down the road.”

“Clearly, Marco will have to prove himself in a much larger company than Céline (we estimate Céline to have had sales of €600 million in 2015), while Julie will have to make her experience relevant and credible in a very different industry. Investors should be aware, of course, that likely disappointing underlying performance in 2016 could moderate short term enthusiasm on the share price and that we will have to wait a few quarters before the impacts of the new leadership translate in the business,” continued Solca.

Mario Ortelli, senior research analyst at Sandford Berstein, said the appointments would be welcomed by investors who have been looking for more strategic management decisions from the company after its lacklustre results recently.

“The company has appointed a CEO with a lot of experience and a good track record in the luxury industry… Personally we like this decision to keep Mr Bailey as chief creative director and president of the company because Christopher is the face of the brand and this is helpful,” he said.


Burberry SS16 Campaign

Taken from Business of Fashion

Spring/Summer 2016 Burberry Prorsum

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It was the usual fanfare at the Burberry Prorsum show in Hyde Park: there were stressed ushers in day-glo jackets directing traffic with military precision, headset-wearing security at every check point, and suited staff guiding show goers to velvet upholstered seats. Even, the same familiar front row: Burberry girls, Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne, Suki Waterhouse, and Jourdan Dunn, in addition to Sienna Miller, Paloma Faith, and Benedict Cumberbatch. But this season was quite unlike any other, because to see Burberry’s spring/summer 2016 show, you didn’t actually need an invitation. You just needed Snapchat. The collection, pretty much in its entirety, was unveiled on the app.

Trust Burberry to come up with a first. And another: Sephora streamed the first ever live runway beauty tutorial on YouTube. No one can say Burberry is behind on the digital up.

Nor an emerging artist. Previous entertainment has included Jake Bugg, James Bay and Tom Odell, but today saw a volte-face on that front with 54-year old singer-songwriter Alison Moyet performing live, accompanied by a 32-piece orchestra. She belted out familiar hits, All Cried Out, Only You, and Whispering Your Name and given the way Christopher Bailey boyishly ran out to hug her at the end, the chief creative and chief executive officer is clearly a fan.


But first things first: that nylon floppy backpack. Remember the wait-list frenzy that ensued over those personalised blanket ponchos a couple of seasons ago? Watch it happen again over these gabardine-constructed nylon backpacks. Embroidered with model’s initials with tan leather buckles they debuted in versions of black and khaki, and served to neatly sum up the younger, carefree spirit of this collection, titled FUNCTIONREGALIA, which was one of Bailey’s most on-the-pulse outings in recent seasons.

This is what modern urbanites will want to wear come spring: one of those slippery oyster silk slip dresses, suspended by spaghetti straps that skimmed the floor, with a languid trench coat nonchalantly thrown over. That look will take her almost anywhere, anytime – and even into autumn with the addition of a sweater. There was big emphasis on coats – yes – even for summer – after all, it’s always winter somewhere in the world; here you’ll find lace trenches spliced with sporty mesh, the perfect black pea coat, duffle coat, officer jacket with frogging and regimental buttons, and leather biker, finished with gold cording trim.

Don’t forget: selected outerwear and bags from this collection can be purchased and personalised until October 5. Best make that call now then.

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Big Changes For Burberry

For anyone who follows the industry, there’s little doubt that fashion has been hurtling towards a sizeable fork in the road for some time now.

Of the two potential paths forward, one represents the same old way of doing things — a route many believe is destined to end in catastrophe before long. The other veers off toward brave new horizons, forsaking the tried-and-tested rules of the road in favour of a new path that will, hopefully, continue long into the future.

As ever, Burberry has placed itself at the vanguard of this latter directional shift. With a reported 120 staff in charge of digital development alone, Burberry has long been an eager pioneer of change; it was the first house to live-stream its runway shows (later even in 3D), the first to offer Twitter-based live purchases, the first to have its own Apple Music radio show and the first to consolidate the roles of CEO and CD in one person — Christopher Bailey. Yet, despite that impressive resumé, Burberry’s recent announcement that it is doing away with traditional release cycles is perhaps its most seismic move to date.


For those unaware of what this entails, moving forward the brand will no longer exhibit separately at both men’s and women’s fashion weeks, and will instead present both collections at once, twice a year (once in February, once in September). Far more significant than this consolidation of catwalk efforts, however, is the news that every item seen in these shows will go on sale immediately afterwards online and in-store, effectively ending the decades-old practice of exhibiting collections roughly six months before they go on sale to the public.

On the face of it, such a decision appears to make complete sense. After all, why should a brand spend millions (for that is what the cost has spiralled to these days) orchestrating elaborate runway shows and drumming up PR support around a collection, only to let it simmer away and die over half a year while the clothes trickle into stores?

Burberry has had a tough couple of years, and in the modern, attention-starved, gratification-hungry world, such a practice appears both wasteful and ludicrously archaic. Likewise, the insistence on exhibiting men’s and women’s collections separately feels outmoded, given fashion’s increasingly blurred lines when it comes to gendered apparel.


In the time since the announcement was first made, publication after publication has lined up to toast the sheer magnitude of Burberry’s decision. Business of Fashion dubbed it as potentially “the move the industry has been waiting for,” while WWD called it “the snowflake that begins an avalanche of change.” The broad consensus among pundits seems to be overwhelmingly positive, with Diane von Furstenberg, chairman of the CFDA, telling The Guardian, “everyone seems to feel that the shows being consumer-driven is a very good idea.”

And, in many respects, that’s true. The luxury fashion industry has undergone a huge period of growth in recent years, but has also felt stagnant and increasingly out of step with the ever quickening pace of both technology and the world at large. Burberry has always gone against the grain in this respect, championing new media like Snapchat or inventive ways of doing business, like Tweet purchasing, that target the customer of tomorrow just as much (if not more) than the customer of today.

In typically astute fashion, Burberry’s decision to change to an immediate sell model acknowledges both the market’s increasing air of impatience and its broadening demographic. Just as Riccardo Tisci flirted with in his “open access” presentation for Givenchy in New York last year, Burberry’s move shifts the emphasis of its catwalk shows away from the elitist, exclusive, industry-orientated crowd of old and directs it squarely at the public. To them, the customers are now the most important guests in the room.


So far, so good, you might say. But here’s where things get a little more complicated, and where Burberry’s watershed decision to overturn the table might have drastic consequences for those sat at the opposite end.

The entire reason the fashion industry has operated on a system of six-month delay up until this point is that it allows designers to exhibit their collections to a room full of buyers, who then place advance orders for the items they wish to sell in their stores. This gives designers a solid idea of how much stock they then need to produce to meet demand, and means they have a guaranteed sum of money they know they will receive as a result of those initial orders.

By removing the period of time between public presentation and sale date, Burberry is placing far more emphasis on an inventory-type retail model — one in which brands produce large quantities of their wares upfront, in anticipation of consumer demand. This model is far riskier, as it involves a large capital outlay at the start of each season with no guarantee on the return to cover those costs. That isn’t such a big deal for Burberry — a company worth some $7.5 billion, with a guaranteed sales presence right across the world — but the same can’t be said for younger, smaller labels trying to get their foot on the ladder. For them, one bad season could spell financial disaster.


While Burberry has stated that it will be offering buyers a low-key, advance preview of its collections before its runway presentations (allowing them to place orders in something approaching the traditional format), the extent of who will be invited to these previews still remains unclear. This raises questions over whether certain retailers will be given preferential treatment over others, thus gaining a competitive edge via early access to the brand’s latest product.

After all, the fewer third party retailers stocking a collection when it releases to the public, the more people are driven to purchase direct from the brand themselves. It doesn’t take a genius to see how a company could leverage that position to benefit a select few, and themselves.

What’s more, while a brand like Burberry is unlikely to have any difficulty attracting buyers from far and wide to preview its collections whenever it decides to show them, once again, the same cannot be said for lesser-known designers. These people rely on the unique occasion of Fashion Week to present their wares to large numbers of buyers at once — buyers who may not be so willing to fly halfway around the world to preview a collection as a standalone trip.

While it’s true this new business model deals a sizeable blow to the copycatting carried out by many fast fashion retailers in the six-month window following any runway presentation, in doing so there is a real danger that it will create a two-tier division within the fashion market — one that stacks the deck heavily in favour of the large, successful and financially secure players at the top of the tree, disadvantaging those looking to break through at the grassroots.


Many are already predicting that, with a force the size of Burberry leading the way, the rest of the market will soon follow suit, affecting a colossal paradigm shift in the way the industry conducts its business. After all, the British giant already has strong company in the shape of Tom Ford and Vetements, both of whom have announced similar plans for selling their wares in 2016.

The very real possibility is that this move will begin a tidal wave of change, as more and more brands scramble to avoid being left behind. Yet, even with the best intentions, some brands won’t be able to make that shift, and will instead end up floundering in a murky limbo while the bigger fish swim upstream. No prizes for guessing which are more likely to survive.

While it’s true that the industry has been in drastic need of new thinking for a long time now, the imperfect beauty of the traditional model was that it allowed both small and large brands to hitch themselves to the same cart and be pulled in the same direction. Now, to some extent, it’s every brand for themselves, and the list of casualties left by the wayside may be large indeed.


Will events like LC:M or NYFW:M continue to survive if major brands break away to exhibit at the more established, better attended women’s events? Will smaller brands be able to drum up media support for a collection if they are still financially tied to an outdated six-month production and order cycle? Will smaller retailers be able to compete when faced not only with spiralling minimum purchase thresholds, but the prospect of receiving goods later than their rivals?

And, finally, will the much-criticised relentless pace of fashion — a phenomenon that has already seen the departure of some of fashion’s most celebrated talents last year — ever have a chance to slow down if trends are created, sold and forgotten every six months? These are all questions to which no solid answer is known, but if the old adage that you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette is true, then we wouldn’t be surprised if a few fell out of this new basket as everyone clambers inside…

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