Leather Bags, Accessories and Women’s Fashion
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A Brief History of Iconic British fashion label Mulberry
The Mulberry fashion label was founded in 1971 by Roger Saul, after his mother gave him a a £50 gift. Roger began selling his own designs of leather chokers and belts to high-end fashion boutiques. Since Mulberry’s humble beginnings in Somerset, it has grown into a global luxury brand that produces collections of men and women’s bags, womenswear, menswear, footwear and interior design.
However, like so many brands, the growth of Mulberry has not always been smooth; Mulberry hit trouble in the late 1980’s, when the brands operations in the US collapsed due to the drastic drop in the US dollars value against the pound. However, the brand was sustained by European growth and further expansion overseas into Japan, South Africa, Italy, Russia and Chile. Successful brand expansion and a rise in the dollars value meant that Mulberry was able to return to the US in the late 1990’s. Mulberry has since continued to build its profile globally.
- 1971: Mulberry is established in Somerset by Roger Saul and his mother Joan, with a collection of Roger’s designs stocked in the London fashion emporium, Biba.
- 1973: Saul opens the Mulberry factory in Chilcompton, Bath, England, and set up a wholesale operation in Australia.
- 1975: Mulberry expands globally with handbag designs for Kenzo in Paris and a special range for Bloomingdale’s in New York.
- 1976: The brand expanded to include outerwear with the first jacket design, consisting of a cotton blouson with a leather collar.
- 1978: The Mulberry ready-to-wear womenswear collection is launched.
- 1982: The men’s footwear collection is launched and a standalone Mulberry store is opened in Paris.
- 1985: The Mulberry menswear ready-to-wear collection is launched.
- 1991: The brand launches a home furnishing collection at Harvey Nichols. Brand expansion continued with the opening of shops in Japan and Russia.
- 1993: The first edition of the Mulberry Life magazine is released.
- 1997: Mulberry teams up with Motorola for a marketing campaign.
- 2002: The iconic Mulberry Bayswater bag is released.
- 2005: Stuart Vevers, formerly of Bottega Veneta and Louis Vuitton, joins Mulberry as creative director.
- 2006: Vevers was awarded Accessory Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Design awards for his work at Mulberry. Also this year, Mulberry launches their apprenticeship programme to encourage local youths to learn production skills and providing training and employment for the local community. Apprentices that graduate from the programme are offered a job at the factory in Somerset.
- 2007: Stuart Vevers announces he is leaving Mulberry to work at Loewe
- 2008: Emma Hill, formerly of Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Chloé and Gap, joins Mulberry as the creative director, taking over from Katie Grand, editor-in-chief of Pop magazine and style consultant for brands such as Prada and Louis Vuitton. Hill debuts with the Spring/Summer 2009 collection. Additionally, the first women’s footwear collection is launched in collaboration with luxury shoe brand Jonathan Kelsey, and Mulberry teams up with Fred Gallery on five limited-edition art totes
- 2009: Mulberry teams up with Apple to create a nine-piece limited edition collection of accessories, including laptop bags, laptop sleeves and mini cross-body bags for the iPhone.
- 2010: Emma Hill wins the Accessory Designer of the Year Award at the Glamour Women of the Year Event. Additionally, Mulberry won the Designer Brand award at the British Fashion Awards.
- 2011: Emma Hill receives the Best Accessories Designer Award at the Elle Style Awards.
The Famous Icons of the Mulberry brand
At the beginning of the 21st century, Mulberry designed and released two bags that were soon to become iconic, the Bayswater and Roxanne.
The Mulberry Bayswater Bag
Launched in 2002 and named after the leafy area of west London, the Bayswater is a favourite icon of Claudia Schiffer and Kate Moss, the latter who has several bespoke versions of the bag. The Bayswater bag was originally released in a few muted colours, but is now available in a plethora of colours include leopard print, ostrich leather and metallic shades. Without a doubt, the celebrity demand for Mulberry bags has contributed to the brand’s continued growth in demand across the globe.
Mulberry – The Bayswater Bag
The Mulberry Alexa Bag
Emma Hill joined the brand as creative director in 2008 – leading to another iconic bag to be released. The Alexa.
The Alexa was launched for the Spring/Summer season of 2011 and quickly reached iconic status. Emma Hill chose to create an updated version of the Bayswater, inspired by presenter and fashion icon, Alexa Chung after she was spotted out with a vintage Burberry men’s briefcase (the Elkington).
The future of luxury label Mulberry
Despite the times of economic downturn, Mulberry had a strong financial year for 2010 with revenue of £72.1 million and a pre-tax profit of £5.1 million. For the 6 weeks to the 15 January 2011, sales were up 60% compared to the same period in 2010, marking a strong start to the year. Despite the strong figures, in early 2011, Mulberry put on hold the opening of a second factory in the UK, noting the unfavourable British tax system as a hindrance to the business’ expansion plans. Whether or not Mulberry is considering off-shore production is unknown, although it will be interesting to see which direction current CEO Godfrey Davis takes the iconic British luxury label.
What we do know is that Mulberry’s pre-tax profits fo the 12 months to Jun 30 2011 are £23.3 million, more than a four-fold annual rise. Profits were buoyed by increased sales overseas and the brand has plans for a network of up to 60 stores in Asia, including 30 in China (including a Beijing flagship store), more in Korea, Singapore, Tiawan and Japan. Additionally, the brand has plans to open up to 12 stores in key European Capitals. Watch this space.
To view the recent collections of Mulberry, Visit the official Mulberry website here
Mulberry Handmade Jewelled Lily Handbag