With the departure of chief creative officer and onetime CEO Christopher Bailey looming, Burberry announced a reinvention plan last Thursday. As the company searches for Bailey’s successor, it also seeks to reinvent itself as a premium luxury brand, shedding its “accessible luxury” reputation.
Burberry placed fourth in L2’s latest Digital IQ Index: Fashion, joining the Gifted category after two years reigning as a Genius. Though Burberry was an early and strong champion of all things digital, brands like Gucci and Fendi have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years, threatening Burberry’s strength.
As part of its reinvention, the brand intends to focus its digital platforms around experiences. Burberry launched an augmented reality feature on its app in September, one of the first fashion brands to roll out Apple’s new ARKit technology.
Another key component of the overhaul is cutting distribution to non-luxury department stores, where discounting has grown increasingly more common. Burberry also plans to add more newness to its product mix and create more recognizable products, especially in the handbags and accessories categories. While the company has been struggling in the US market, its global business has grown 4% year over year, and the brand seeks to capitalize on this growth by elevating its positioning and exclusivity.
Industry sources have speculated that Celine creative officer Phoebe Philo could be next to take the helm at Burberry, particularly because Burberry’s new CEO Marco Gobbetti joined from Celine this past July. Celine has seen success as an ultra-exclusive brand focused primarily on handbags, two attributes Burberry seems to be chasing. However, Celine is also one of the most Feeble brands in L2’s ranking, suggesting that Burberry will need to glean its digital expertise elsewhere.