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Has Burberry traded off its image in appointing a new creative chief?

Mar. 21, 2018
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For well over a century, Burberry has been known for the fashion house’s Britishness and the iconic trench-coat trademark. What has changed?

In a statement on the first of March, the British brand’s CEO, Marco Gobbetti, announced his appointment of Riccardo Tisci as Burberry’s new chief creative officer. Tisci is an Italian designer who previously worked for more than a decade as creative director at Givenchy. In regards to fashion and couture, he has been known for his work with popular culture influencers and artists: the Italian designer has designed the stage outfits for performers like Madonna, Beyoncé, and Rihanna. Hence, the majority of his audience is quite young in comparison to Burberry’s perceived target market. 

Burberry, established in 1856, is known for its classy, chic British branding. Every fashion-conscious person likely has a vague memory of the company’s 2015 fragrance campaign, which featured the iconic Cara Delevingne and Kate Moss wearing the trademark trench coat. The trench coat and its check print have defined the history and aesthetic of Burberry. 

via: Burberry

Burberry’s look isn’t entirely aligned with that of Tisci’s previous work at Givenchy. The Paris-based label is an advocate for progressive innovation, challenging preconceived ideology. Tisci brought Givenchy its edge through bold graphic prints and streetwear-driven concepts; his success lies in the brand’s growth and ultimate expansion in consumers.

His work has had significant influences on fashion. In Givenchy Men’s Pre-Fall 2013 collection, the “Pervert 17” jersey received a lot of attention. Vogue called it “Tisci’s love letter to the USA.” 

In response, Tisci stated, “I’ve been obsessed with America since I was a kid. It’s the typical Italian dream of someone who wants to be somebody.” Tisci’s love for streetwear is obvious when observing what he has done in and outside of Givenchy. In a majorly hyped collaborative project with Nike in 2014, he redesigned the Nike Air Force 1 with vibrant hues and neat edges.

Why would Burberry, a fashion house which describes itself as a “brand with a distinctly British attitude,” want somebody like Tisci, who is obsessed with Americanism? 

From 2004 to 2008, when Gobbetti was President and CEO of Givenchy, he and Tisci briefly worked together. In a statement, Gobbetti said that “[Tisci] is one of the most talented designers of our time.” His international success was further proven when he received the International Award at the CFDA Fashion Awards in 2013. In appointing Tisci as Burberry’s new chief creative visionary, Gobbetti hopes that “[Tisci’s] creative vision will reinforce the ambitions [they] have for Burberry and position the brand firmly in luxury.” He also believes that “[Tisci’s] designs have an elegance that is contemporary, and his skill in blending streetwear with high fashion is highly relevant to today’s luxury consumer.” Unsurprisingly, another fashion house is reinventing itself and making a move in the consumer’s direction.