Magazine article Marketing

Mulberry

Magazine article Marketing

Mulberry

Article excerpt

The brand, which was founded on the back of a pounds 500 loan, is now a billion-pound designer fashion company.

A simple idea predicated on making leather accessories has developed into the billion-pound fashion company Mulberry.

Beloved by fashionistas worldwide, its beginnings in deepest Somerset are part of Mulberry's strong British heritage, although it is now under foreign ownership.

In 1971, entrepreneur Roger Saul began selling leather belts to labels such as Biba and department stores in Paris and the US, using pounds 500 from his family. As the company expanded, Mulberry became a quality label loved by 'Sloane rangers' for its simple designs.

In the late 90s, the company had expanded to Asia, but was hit by economic problems there, in addition to an increase in operating spend.

Amid staff layoffs and financial losses, a majority stake in the company was bought by fashion-business mogul Christina Ong in 2000.

Backed by Ong's fashion nous, Mulberry underwent an almost fairy-tale reinvention. She appointed British designer Scott Henshall, the first in a string of creative directors who would gradually push Mulberry into the realm of high-end fashion.

Henshall was followed by Nicholas Knightly and then Stuart Vevers, who was responsible for creating the classic Bayswater, the bestselling bag in Mulberry's history.

Successful collaborations with British designers such as Luella Bartley and Giles Deacon, alongside expansion to the US and the luxury market in Japan, boosted the brand's credentials. Mulberry bags were fast becoming a familiar sight on the arms of celebrities.

The appointment of creative director Emma Hill in 2007 solidified Mulberry's standing at the forefront of British fashion. Under her leadership came the Mitzy, Daria and Alexa bag, named after fashionista Alexa Chung.

Despite the recession, Mulberry has bucked the trend in British retail, successfully positioning itself as a premium brand. With a lower price-point compared with other leading designers, it has cornered the market in affordable luxury.

Sales of the brand continue to rise and 30% of production is still carried out in Somerset.

MULBERRY TIMELINE

1971: Roger Saul began making leather goods from his Somerset home. A factory was soon set up in Shepton Mallet and local craftsman were hired as the business grew.

1998: Mulberry expanded its presence in Japan and entered the Middle East market with stores in Bahrain, Kuwait and Lebanon. …

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