Christopher Bailey - with the help and cool co-sign of buzzy Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy - sent models down the runway in head-to-toe Burberry plaid as part of a much-talked-about collaboration between the two. This was an interesting move, as Burberry - under the watch of Bailey, who has been at the helm for over 15 years, has worked hard to move away from the brand's reputation as a producer of raincoats and checked scarves, and towards a bonafide fashion house with runway credibility. A significant aspect of this effort has been distancing itself from the plaid print.
Yet, in 2017, when all things 1990's - from chokers and crop tops to wider denim silhouettes - are trending, it might be time for Burberry to look to the archive, so to speak, in order to regain revenue growth. That is what some of its closest rivals are doing. A quick look at the runways is recent seasons sees Gucci relying heavily on the use of its once-dated double-G motif, and LVMH’s logo-aggressive collaboration with streetwear/skatewear brand Supreme.
In addition to proving a social media friendly fabric, Bloomberg recently noted that "consumers these days need a reason to spend on a new coat or handbag, so this is no time to be shy." And the publication posits that Burberry's one-off partnership with Rubchinskiy is the first sign that the British brand "is prepared to venture back into its lost decade."
As Bloomberg notes, "Burberry should build on this start to make some brave creative choices. [new CEO Marco] Gobbetti inherits a company that has plenty of cash, and is making good progress cutting costs. But it lacks sparkle. If Burberry doesn’t want to lose its current aesthetic (although it really should), it could always use the Rubchinskiy tie-up as a springboard for more experimental collections. 'Chav light' would be less risky, but would still create excitement. Alternatively, it could collaborate further with a third-party designer or artist. LVMH has long taken this approach, teaming up most recently with Jeff Koons for its bags based on famous artworks."
No matter the direction, with sales stagnating, the brand certainly needs to do something, and fast.