The leather goods label Mulberry might be known for its golden oldies, but Johnny Coca, the recently installed designer, presented a new take on its classic replica handbags at London Fashion Week yesterday.
He super-sized the best-selling Bayswater tote to huge proportions and called it the Piccadilly, and shrank chain-handled messenger bags to the size of a mobile phone.
Coca riffed on a theme of uniforms and Oxbridge with his new shape, the Cherwell. The box-bag style was inspired by satchels and school lunchboxes and comes panelled with contrast striped leathers in club tie colours.
While we were momentarily distracted by Cara Delevingne’s cool next season collection for Mulberry, we’re BACK in the here and now with a bang, as Mulberry launch the latest addition to their rather good-looking family.
They created the Kensal shoulder bag especially for the Mulberry spring/summer 2017 show, and it is a thing of BEAUTY.
Based on a classic envelope design, with a traditional briefcase lock, the twist is the fact it’s double-sided! So you totally get more bag for your buck, right? RIGHT.
Coming in two sizes and LOADS of new season colours including Black, Oak, Fiery Red or Cream Velvet Calf Leather, Midnight Blue Haircalf Mix Leather and Pavement Grey Ostrich Mix Leather, the Kensal is one seriously stylish bag.
While it can be worn on the shoulder or across the body, we quite like the way Cara et al were carrying this cute design as a clutch on the SS14 catwalk. And apparently that’s SO the new way to handle your handbag.
Today I’ll be taking a closer look at three luxury British brands famed for their designer clothing and accessories. This fashionable trio may be great at designing scarves, replica handbags and shoes – but could you seriously invest in Mulberry, Burberry and Jimmy Choo?
Famous for its signature check, Burberry (LSE: BRBY) is also known for its trench coats, cashmere scarves, other accessories and, more recently, its high-margin replica handbags. The retailer has enjoyed relentless growth for over a decade as overseas markets have been lured by the brand’s British heritage. But full-year results to the end of March revealed a drop in pre-tax profits coupled with lower revenues as the slowdown in the key Asian market continued to take its toll. The disappointing results have led to the firm announcing a three-year investment and cost-saving strategy, as well as management changes with a new CEO set to join.
But the challenge facing the luxury market, particularly in China remains a concern, and the City doesn’t expect replica Burberry to return to growth until at least 2018. The shares have lost a fifth of their value this year, and are trading well below all-time highs of £19 reached in 2015. Currently trading at around £13 with a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 19, I believe this luxury brand is still too expensive, despite the heavily discounted price-tag.
Mulberry (LSE: MUL) is another London-listed fashion brand catering for customers with more exclusive tastes. The upmarket retailer designs and sells a whole host of clothing and footwear, but continues to be best known for its luxe leather replica handbags.
Unlike its much bigger rival Burberry, AIM-listed Mulberry replica pleased investors with strong results for fiscal 2016. A sharp rise in pre-tax profits to £6.22m, compared to just £1.86m reported a year earlier, and revenues also up from £148.7m to £155.9m came after it introduced more ‘affordable’ luxury products.
After three year of decline, the Bath-based business looks to have turned a corner with brokers expecting a strong rise in earnings this year and next. But the shares are trading at 12 month highs after gaining more than a fifth this year, and I would say that the predicted growth is well-and-truly-priced-in with premium earnings multiples of 110 for this year, falling to a still-expensive 78 for the year to March 2018. The risk remains that the shares could tumble if the company fails to deliver on the ambitious growth forecasts.
Successful growth strategy
Jimmy Choo (LSE: CHOO) is a luxury British fashion house synonymous with designer shoes. The London-listed small-cap remains upbeat about its prospects saying it has enjoyed a good start to 2016 while it continues to deliver its successful growth strategy and remains focused on controlled expansion. Brand awareness continues to grow strongly, particularly in China where the label is under-penetrated.
City analysts are also positive about the company’s prospects, predicting strong double-digit earnings growth over the medium term, with underlying profits expected to reach to almost £30m by the end of next year. Not bad for a company that reported a pre-tax loss of £8.3m as recently as 2014. The shares look good value at 14 times earnings for 2017 given the strong growth outlook, and in my opinion now could be a good time to buy ahead of interim results due on 25 August.
How you too could shop at Mulberry, Burberry and Jimmy Choo!
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— Newcastle business The Handbag Clinic have donated the black Mulberry to Newcastle Racecourse as one of the Ladies Day prizes
We’ve seen queues of women lining up in the early hours in freezing temperatures to get themselves one from Fenwick’s Christmas sale and now a coveted Mulberry replica bag will be one of the prizes for Ladies Day’s newest Best Dressed winner.
Once again fashion experts will be at Newcastle Racecourse on Saturday for the glamorous annual event and at the end of the afternoon one lucky lady will walk away with a prize package that includes return flights to New York, an overnight stay in The Vermont Hotel, personal training sessions and VIP treatment at Livello and Aveika.
And then there’s the small matter of the Mulberry bag, worth £175, being donated by Newcastle city centre business The Handbag Clinic.
We called into the Mosley Street store on Friday afternoon to catch a glimpse of the prized ‘Lily’ bag and speak to the Clinic’s Purchasing Manager Charlotte Staerck about what it is about replica Mulberry bags that send women’s excitement levels soaring.
“Everyone loves a Mulberry because they’re ideal for work, nights out and events like Ladies Day. They’ve got a real classic look.”
The Handbag Clinic, who will be at Ladies Day with their giant pink handbag, stock a who’s who of high end designers with other bags on the shelves including Hermes, Valentino, Dior and Prada.
They are planning a week dedicated to Louis Vuitton early next month. Watch this space for further details.
— An East Anglian company which has made replica handbags for stars including Emma Watson and Keira Knightley is hoping to get its brand into leading retail chains.
Jardine of London, which is based in Bury St Edmunds, has secured a trial placing for a selection of its bags in department store chain Fenwick’s newly refurbished Williams & Griffin outlet in Colchester.
“We are hoping they will roll out our brand in the rest of the Fenwick stores,” said founder Mary Jardine, who launched the business in 2014.
“We are approaching other stores such as John Lewis and Selfridges at the moment also.”
And she believes there are “exciting times ahead as I jostle for position next to Mulberry oulet, Aspinal of London, Vivienne Westwood, etc.”
Mary, who designs the replica bags herself, said she had the “light bulb moment” to create a high-end luxury British handbag business as she approached her 50th birthday.
Her bags are British-made and do not feature the overt “designer” branding of other up-market labels.
“Obvious branding has long appeared on many of the replica designer handbags brands. For years I have admired these beautiful designs, but along with many other women, this overt branding repeatedly turns me away,” she said.
“We are disrupting the market by offering a luxury replica handbag brand that does not put overt branding on the outside of the bag.
“I created Jardine of London to appeal to women who would love to own a classic and timeless handbag without feeling that they are wearing a banner pointing an arrow at the branding on the outside of their bag.”
She added: “With manufacturing in the UK declining in the fashion world, I felt the need to support British manufacturing. To that end, I felt determined to have my replica handbags uk all handcrafted in Britain.
“I am proud to have a selection of my bags trialled in one of the Fenwick stores, a truly British department store.”
SEEING DOUBLE: Dualities in fashion and in life is the theme of Mulberry’s latest fall 2016 campaign, entitled “Self/Reflection.”
Shot by Coco Capitán, it features twin models Lia and Odette Pavlova, who are photographed as each other’s reflection. One is dressed in a sheer plum blouse and a yellow jacquard slipdress, while the other dons an identical outfit in a darker palette. The brand aims to highlight the different qualities of the cheap Mulberry woman, which it described as “strong and striking, yet soft and feminine.”
“Lia and Odette have such distinctive looks and we played with their ‘twinness’ to twist the idea of reflection — sometimes you’re looking at one girl in a mirror, sometimes you see two, reflecting each other in their pose instead. The result is intriguing and playful,” said Johnny Coca, creative director of the British luxury brand.
The 22-year-old Russian models walked in many major fashion shows during the fall season, including Gucci, Saint Laurent and Valentino. Most recently they also were in ad campaigns for Givenchy, Emilio Pucci and Gucci’s exclusive capsule collection for Net-a-porter.
The Mulberry campaign also places focus on the new range of accessories designed by Coca, including studded hoop earrings, playful round-frame sunglasses and the label’s new replica handbags style, the Chester, which features a colorblock tote with military-inspired silver hardware.
Following Coca’s debut collection last February, Mulberry outlet has brought its average prices down and invested in product design and development. Thierry Andretta, the company’s chief executive officer, explained that his aim is to work alongside Coca to transform Mulberry replica into a lifestyle brand, with leather goods at its core, and full footwear and ready-to-wear lines that channel the label’s British roots and bohemian flair.
“We really want a complete 360-degree vision in every category and to target both the existing and aspirational customer,” Andretta told WWD earlier this year.
The new campaign will break in September issues of publications such as British Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar U.K., and there are plans of releasing that month a second video exploring the “Self/Reflection” theme featuring more products from the fall range.
Hailed as ‘the man to save Mulberry’, Johnny Coca is off to a flying start. Since he was appointed creative director in July 2015, the brand’s profits have increased three-fold: up to £6.2 million, versus £1.9 million for the previous year. And when his first catwalk collection was unveiled at London Fashion Week in February, all eyes were on the replica handbags. Previously design director for shoes and accessories at Céline, this is the man responsible for hits such as the Trio and the Trapeze, so expectations were weighty.
Those high hopes were not unfounded. Coca’s take on classics such as the Bayswater, along with brand new styles like the compact, cross-body Clifton, have put Mulberry replica firmly back on top of the must-have bag list. And the brand has just revealed the latest addition for autumn/winter 2016: the Camden.
A single-handle, bucket-style replica bag, the Camden features four high-shine zips which transform it from a slouchy, hobo-like carry-all when worn open (as seen on the catwalk), to a cleaner, more structured tote when zipped up. “I was inspired to play with the zips by the iconic hardware of British punk culture,” says Coca. “Zips make a powerful subversive statement which, when contrasted with lux materials, create an edgy aesthetic.”
While the zips give a nod to the punk reputation of its namesake area of London, plush materials mean the Camden is firmly at home in Mayfair’s leather-goods mecca. Classic black, indigo, burgundy and clay versions come in the brand’s signature, heavy-duty grained leather – the quality of which was one of the first things Coca set about improving – while there are also tri-colour designs in smooth calf leather or tactile calf hair, and a leopard-print calf-hair style with a more rock-chic aesthetic.
Finished with the details that are fast becoming a signature of Coca’s ‘new Mulberry outlet’ – the reimagined logo inspired by a font from the archives, the sumptuous suede lining, the military-style studs – the robust-yet-roomy Camden also reflects Coca’s commitment to function as well as form (he studied architecture). Starting at £195, the replica bags sit at the high end of the “affordable luxury” sweet-spot that’s so vital to cheap Mulberry’s comeback, after previous price hikes alienated many of its core consumers.
“The Camden is for everyday use,” continues Coca’s statement. “It’s perfect easy cool with a twist of an edge.” So far, that combination is a recipe for success at replica Mulberry.
— Luxury replica handbag firm sees 8% rise in sales after wooing back customers, and plans to open more factories in UK
Profits at the British handbag maker Mulberry replica have recovered after it cut prices and spruced up its ranges to win back customers.
Mulberry’s efforts to become a more affordable luxury replica handbags brand appear to be paying off, following a disastrous move upmarket in recent years. It now intends to open more factories in the UK as revenues rise.
Profits before tax rose to £6.2m in the year to 31 March, from £1.9m the previous year. Retail sales climbed 8% to £118.7m while wholesale revenues dipped slightly to £37.2m from £38.8m.
Like-for-like sales were up 8% last year but growth has slowed in the 11 weeks to 11 June, to 4%. Many luxury retailers are struggling, such as Burberry, Giorgio Armani and Hugo Boss, as demand has suffered as a result of the economic slowdown in China.
Mulberry said the first collection from its new creative director, Johnny Coca, who was recruited from Céline, at London fashion week in February had been well received by the press and the company’s partners. It started arriving in shops in April and the whole collection will be in stores by August.
The Somerset-based firm said 70% of its replica handbags uk were priced between £500 and £995, compared with less than half in 2014. They include the bestselling Bayswater and the Lily, named after model Lily Cole. Mulberry has brought the style and pricing of shoes and ready-to-wear collections into line with replica bags.
The firm has pushed through production efficiencies at its factories in Chilcompton and Bridgwater, which produce half of its replica handbags. As they are close to capacity, there are plans to open a third factory in Britain. “The brand’s British DNA is emphasised as a point of distinction,” Mulberry said.
The company opened a new flagship store in Paris last year, replacing a smaller one, and closed three stores in the US. It plans to open fewer stores in coming years to focus on improving shops and its digital business.
Digital sales rose 19% to £21.4m last year, boosted by a website upgrade and improved delivery. They now account for 14% of group sales, compared with 12% in 2015 and 10% in 2014. About half of this comes from mobile phones and tablets.
Nivindya Sharma, senior analyst at consultancy Verdict Retail, said: “There is much more potential for growth especially as Mulberry outlet uk plans to extend its digital offer into key international markets through local language websites and local fulfilment over the next few years.”
She said with Coca’s efforts to modernise the brand while respecting its heritage, Mulberry was on its way to regaining its trademark “classic but cool” credentials.
“Mulberry has made significant progress during the last financial year with solid growth achieved in revenues and profit,” said Thierry Andretta, the chief executive.
“Our UK manufacturing base has remained a core strength and point of distinction. We have built a strong foundation for future growth as a result of the investment made in product design and development as well as our omni-channel infrastructure.”
— Mulberry has created a light-hearted film reimagining the nativity for its 2015 Christmas campaign.
The two-minute film, created by Adam & Eve/DDB, features a man giving his wife a replica Mulberry Bayswater bag for Christmas. Once she has opened the present, a succession of visitors come to pay their respects to the bag.
As the two shepherds and then three wise men arrive, it slowly becomes clear that the bag has taken the place of Jesus in the nativity story.
The film will be accompanied by social media activity and a competition through the Mulberry website.
Anne Marie Verdin, the brand director at Mulberry outlet uk, said: “Everyone at Mulberry loves Christmas and every year we like to put out an amusing tongue-in-cheek little story about how difficult it is to get Christmas right.
“Our research shows that men are particularly nervous about the consequences of getting it wrong. We like to make people smile in the run up to their hopefully… perfect Christmas.”
At Adam & Eve/DDB the copywriter was Aidan McClure and the art director was Laurent Simon. The spot was directed by James Rouse through Outsider.
Rick Brim, an executive creative director at Adam & Eve/DDB, said: “I don’t think you can underestimate that joyous moment when you receive the gift of a Mulberry replica handbag. So with that in mind this idea is simple, funny and couldn’t be more Christmassy if it tried.”
Last year Adam & Eve/DDB also created a humorous online film for Mulberry’s Christmas campaign. The 2014 ad showed a grandma “winning” Christmas by giving her granddaughter a Mulberry bag as a present.
Being tasked with reversing the sartorial fortunes of a brand considered as a national institution is no mean feat, but the verdict on Johnny Coca’s tenure at Mulberry outlet to date? So far, so good. As he approaches his one-year anniversary, we caught up with fashion’s boy wonder to see how he’s getting on – from reinventing classics, to introducing the new bag du jour.
How has your first year at Mulberry been?
“Very, very busy! As soon as I arrived I spent time at our factories in Somerset and with the design team in London, working and working on the first new product and the February show. Now the show is done and we are onto the next season and the one after that. There is so much to do!”
Have there been any surprises that you weren’t expecting?
“Not that it’s surprising, but how much people love replica Mulberry – that was really noticeable when I got to London. I see Mulberry everywhere when I’m out and about and people are always telling me about their own Mulberry replica bags when they find out what I do.”
Having worked in the background for a long time, how are you finding being the frontman for a house?
“It’s an amazing opportunity. To have a 360-degree view of a brand and all of its collections. As creative director, it is my job to push the boundaries, while always respecting the legacy. I came to Mulberry to help bring a British fashion and lifestyle brand into a new era. Mulberry outlet uk is also the leading leather goods manufacturer in the UK. We are now designing with more of a focus on the original lifestyle approach: ready-to-wear, shoes, jewellery, travel, as well as leather accessories for men and women. I will measure success by how much this new design era can appeal to the global customers of today.”
Were you daunted coming on board and redesigning famous silhouettes, such as the Bayswater?
“I always try to remember that it’s truly an honour to be trusted with a brand that people love. Mulberry replica is such a British institution and our customers really feel passion for the brand and for our bags. The Bayswater is one example: it’s a Mulberry replica icon. But all icons evolve and we’ve tried to make the new Bayswater as relevant as possible for women today. It’s the small changes that make a big difference – the inside pocket is easier to get to on the front, and we’ve reinforced the lining with beautiful suede to give the overall bag more structure. The Bayswater is a bag for every day and I wanted to make sure it could be the best it could be.”
Tell us about your direction for your new bag creation, the Maple.
“The Maple isn’t gimmicky, it is just a well-made tote that carries all the things you need day to day – the size was deliberately specified to fit A4 documents and laptops. Its beauty is in its structure – the simplicity of the form and the careful addition of details, like the detachable front pocket. It’s perfect for running out to get a coffee and for those times when you don’t need to take your whole bag with you.”
A replica designer bag is a statement for the wearer – how does the design of the Maple, and your other bags, reflect you as the designer and the new direction of Mulberry?
“I want to focus on the construction of replica bags – and the shoes, and the ready-to-wear! In a way, when I’m designing, it’s like I’m designing a building. I studied architecture so structure and form really resonate with me. It’s all very well designing a beautiful bag, but it needs to be functional, useful, too.”
What are your thoughts as a designer on the see-now-buy-now model?
“I think that increasingly people do want instant access to the new and exciting. The shows and campaigns are now instant and all on social media straight away. But we are very lucky at cheap Mulberry – by having two factories in the UK, we can produce collections in line with customer demand. However, we also like to work with the press and buyers to really create the stories and desire for the brand, which means leaving some lead time. So we will do it the fake Mulberry way: continuing seasonal collections but having select product and capsule collections immediately available.”
How do you plan to evolve your designs from autumn/winter 2016 to spring/summer 2017?
“It’s important for me to always reference British design details and for both collections you’ll notice inspiration from traditional tailoring, iconic hardware and classic silhouettes. Colour is also so important to me – I think it’s part of being Spanish! Different leathers take colour in different ways and it’s been interesting to work with new materials and really offer vivid, rich colour choices for our customers.”