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And then there was cohesion.
Or at least a significant step forward in Riccardo Tisci’s vision for Burberry as a brand. Ever since the Italian designer took the helm as chief creative officer of Burberry in March 2018, he’s been very clear about his distinct targeting strategy — segmenting the boy from the gentleman and the girl from the lady. This season there was a seamless blending of all that made the contrast between the minimal bourgeoisie and street styles from the last two seasons less evident.
This meant for Burberry’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection its “gentlemen” wore relaxed jersey-wool suits combined with unbuttoned checked shirts, sneakers and sports shorts overlaid with tailored wool while the “boys” sported deconstructed rugby shirts paired with structured trousers and open-backed brogues (see: #muleboyz). In part, the “ladies” wore logo-branded, ruffled lace dresses, cinched at the waist with utility belts. “Girls” mix-and-matched chic cardigans and heels with tiny shorts and bowling shirts.
“My first year at Burberry was about understanding and refining the new codification for the house,” says Riccardo Tisci. “With that foundation in place, I feel ready to start exploring what’s at the heart of this incredible brand.”
“Evolution,” Tisci calls it in other words. The show was held in the newly opened Troubadour Theatre — the former BBC Media Village in West London. At the venue, showgoers — including Dua Lipa, Noami Campbell and Octavian — faced themselves in a giant mirrored cube that revealed an antiqued rust flooring, reflecting the palette of Tisci’s collection. The runway itself featured models like Bella Hadid, Agnes Deyn and newly-blond Kendall Jenner, and was centered around a Victorian-inspired sound system installation resembling jet engines.
What came down the runway was a celebration of new house codes put into an aesthetic blender. From traditional streetwear staples, to office attire, red carpet dressing, loungewear, avant-garde items, all were present in Tisci’s Burberry Kingdom that for this collection looked at Thomas Burberry’s early years of building his company during the Victorian era.
But Tisci is a man of the times, so the classic fabrications of the garments themselves were updated through the use of innovative techniques making the clothing more adaptable. On a macro level, however, Tisci views contemporary culture as a way to inform the way he does business, never shying away from what’s happening in the wider world outside of the fashion bubble.
After all, the designer was a pioneer in bringing streetwear to the runway at Givenchy, long before his peers did so. For Burberry, this results in making the distinctions between the way men and women dress less obvious as seen with the number of women wearing Wall Street-esque shirting and men with crystal-meshed polos and lingerie detailing walking down the runway this time around.
It also results in there being a bigger push on sustainability as today’s collection was certified carbon neutral. “We have offset our impacts, such as the flights of guests traveling to London specifically for the show and the build and production of the event, through VSC-certified REDD+ projects which prevent deforestation and conserve tropical rainforest in the Brazilian Amazon,” Burberry said in a statement.
Both pushes are a critical step in the right direction for any brand wanting to resonate with the influential next generation of shoppers, who are increasingly aligning themselves with brands who are equally style and value-driven.
But his influence at Burberry stretches much further than these changes alone. Over the past 18 months, Tisci has been tasked with transforming Burberry into a true luxury brand with an even bigger global outlook that can compete with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Dior and Gucci. The strategy has already seen him collaborate with Vivienne Westwood, launch a monthly digital-focussed drop model named “B-Series” and redesign Burberry’s logo and Thomas Burberry check with the help of legendary graphic designer Peter Saville.
So far it’s working with the brand’s most recent quarterly sales being up by 4 percent compared to a year earlier. But one step at a time. As Tisci is gradually creating a new identity for Burberry, it’s pushing the brand into a new era.
As Tisci concludes: “This is a collection inspired by our past and dedicated to our future. It’s the evolution of our Burberry kingdom.”