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Christopher Bailey brings Burberry into the 21st century

Fashion /

Christopher Bailey brings Burberry into the 21st century


Burberry Spring / Summer 2016 – Angela Cliffe enjoys a very stylish walk in the park with Christopher Bailey

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We usually refer to individuals as style Icons but the British Fashion House Burberry has claimed an Iconic place at the heart of British Fashion. Each season the Burberry show currently held on ‘Fashion Monday’ is for many people the apex of London Fashion Week.

Burberry are currently the largest British fashion brand that is watched, bought, cherished and loved around the world. Sales in 2014 where at an all-time high and there is a global surge in interest in British Heritage brands. Very aptly championed by the mounted Burberry Knight, the gravitas that the Burberry name carries makes it one of our leading ambassadors.

If you have any doubt about simply check out the Front row for Spring Summer 2016.  Kate Moss, Anna Wintour, David Furnish, Sophie Hunter and Benedict Cumberbatch, Cara Delevingne, Suki Waterhouse, Jourdan Dunn , Paloma Faith  & Poppy Delevingne. All are well aware of the significance of a firm the size of Burberry. China has also taken Burberry to its heart with several leading Chinese actresses in attendance at the show. In sync with changes in the global retail market China now is a key consumer of British Fashion, style and taste with Burberry’s ready to wear clothing, perfumes and accessories being eagerly snapped up.

In the shadow of Prince Albert and the Royal Albert Hall the international fashion pack swarmed together for Burberry’s Spring and Summer 2016 FUNCTIONREGALIA catwalk show. The soft-rock ballads of Alyson Moyet clad in a black Burberry trench accompanied by a 32 piece orchestra echoed out across the lush early autumn landscape of Kensington. We certainly weren’t ‘All Cried Out’ as the first light and lacy looks came out on the catwalk.

Christopher and the Burberry team conquered fresh ground with Burberry’s trademark contemporary feel of urban luxury hitting the style bullseye. True to its title we saw look after look come out that met the desire to wear luxury urban casual clothes that have sophistication, sexiness and a no nonsense flair. It was all there; day wear, Summer Party dresses, statement jackets. Lace tops matched with short skirts, cute must-have clutches and back-packs (do ask to customise with your initials) had us dreaming up different outfit combos and a twist of military chic turned up the heat for urban cool next season. An interesting innovation this season was the sheer lace panel effect appearing in the Iconic Burberry trench. Adding a sexy new twist to the much-loved classic this is sure to rocket to the top of many wish lists. Colours where muted with blush teaming up with black and gold and military style piping adding an extra ounce of discipline to men’s and women’s jackets.

Not resting on their laurels Burberry are also finding new ways to utilise social media. A preview of the Spring / Summer 2016 collection was shown on Snap-Chat the night before the show and Sephora cannily used YouTube to stream live beauty tutorials from back stage during the show to a global audience hungry for the latest beauty tips and tricks.

In another pioneering moment at 5PM UK time on Thursday 22 October Burberry claimed a World’s First when it launched a 24 hour Snapchat Campaign as it was shot live by legendary Mario Testino. Christopher Bailey was bubbling with enthusiasm as always “We wanted to play with the conventional format of an advertising campaign to make it much more immediate and accessible just as we did with our runway show last month”. The recent Burberry LA event generated 2 million views and they hoped to beat this number with this presentation. Mario is also keen to embrace the dynamism of Social media “With the Snapchat campaign we are hoping to change the way the industry traditionally views and treats fashion campaigns – with the result being much more instant and genuine.” Exciting times indeed at Burberry.

Interaction and making the experience personal is the name of the game. The Burberry Scarf bar allows you to order your own with monogram signature. The recent addition in 2014 of an in-house make-up line completes the picture of an international Fashion House with a broad offering that today’s international client market expects.

Burberry was founded in 1856 in Basingstoke by a 21 year-old Thomas Burberry after he had completed his Drapers apprenticeship and only 15 years later the firm had established itself as a leading specialist of outdoor clothing. In 1880 the introduction of the Burberry Gabardine fabric sealed Burberry’s place in fashion history. A hard-wearing, water-resistant yet breathable fabric, propelled the brand to international recognition and heralded the birth of the famous Burberry Trench coat.  Burberry’s key to success lay in perfecting a process in which the yarn is waterproofed before weaving thus enabling them to manufacture waterproofed clothing in large quantity for export around the globe.

In the 19th century Britain was the world’s foremost textile manufacturer and it was also an age of great exploration. ‘Burberry’s of London’ where perfectly placed to support the famous British Arctic and Antarctic explorers of their day. Major F.G. Jackson, Captain Robert Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton all undertook expeditions using Burberry clothing and canvas tents. These men and their teams drew huge Global media interest just as celebrity brand ambassadors of Burberry do today; though we may not see Kate Moss wearing Burberry in the Antarctic or Cara Delevingne shooting a campaign at the North Pole (but how cool would that be?!). Only 30 years on from its modest first store in London’s Haymarket, the firm was capturing the attention of the world.

The early 20th century growth of Aviation, Motorsport and Skiing required clothes that could withstand pressures of temperature and harsh environments. Burberry excelled and leapt to the challenge of meeting the needs of these new markets.  History often works in cycles and today the heartland of Burberry’s manufacturing base is located in many of the areas that supported Burberry in the past. There are several production locations in the UK today including the Burberry Mill in West Yorkshire and the cashmere scarves and ponchos are supplied by Johnstons of Elgin in Scotland. Johnstons restructuring and high profile collaboration with Burberry have seen them return to profit and there is much excitement for the future.  Burberry’s own growth in recent decades has been hand in hand with the re-growth of British textile manufacture.

Christopher Bailey himself is Yorkshire born and bred. He often travels back to spend quiet weekends with family in the county. His roots in the same neck of the woods as Burberry’s manufacturing heritage leave him perfectly positioned to keep his finger on the pulse of the dynamic in’s and out of the production process. Double hatting as both Chief Designer and CEO following Angela Ahrendts move to Apple in 2014 is no mean feat but Christopher carries it off well with boundless energy.

Burberry has a debt of gratitude to the communities that supported it for so long and the Burberry Foundation established in 2012 works to raise money to give young people in these areas the chance to pursue dreams and ambitions through the medium of creativity. It may sound cliché but the Burberry catwalk in London with Supermodels and ‘A’ list celebrities in the front row has much closer links to the firm’s grass roots than may be apparent.  As the show closed we were treated to a third song from Alyson ‘we weren’t left waiting’ just as her lyrics said as runway made-to-order commenced straight after the show. It’s an express answer for a digital age.