What should you do when you fall out of love with a brand?
It’s a strange feeling and one you’ve never experienced before. Your thumping heart slows to a steady beat. Your once-sweaty palms unfurl as you relax and instead of releasing a steadying sigh, you exhale a deep, disappointed breath.
You’ve just seen the new collection from your favourite designer and you hate it all. The infatuation is over.
So what do you do? Panic? Breathe a sigh of relief for your bank balance? Move on and find another brand to lust after? Or simply sit there and wonder where it all went wrong (as far as you’re concerned) for your once beloved brand?
This was the dilemma I was faced with last Saturday when I saw some sneaky peeks of Mulberry’s new SS18 collection from Paris Fashion Week. Johnny Coca currently holds the reigns of the British heritage brand but sadly he seems to have tied himself up in knots and created a scattergun collection of randomly jewel-encrusted sacks and shapeless bags splattered with stripes.
As I scrolled through the photos, mouth gaping slightly agog at the horror that was unfolding, I scrabbled around to pinpoint just what it was I was feeling. Heartbroken would be too strong a word, but definitely sad. I was sad that Mulberry, a brand I had loved, cherished and whose bags I had lusted over for more than a decade, had veered so dramatically off course.
Sure, Coca’s Amberley range was present in Paris and they are a stunning range of bags (as I chatted about here), but they were given something of a wacky update with vibrant stripes and ruffles. Call me stuck in the past, but I look to Mulberry to give me classic bags that won’t date as quickly as other brands, and these new-look Amberleys didn’t tick that box.
But don’t get me started on the drawstring bucket bags, the new gold splodge fastening and the weird bag with gems made to look like a hideous face. They were just plain ugly and not in the least bit desirable. Maybe they will look better when I see them in real life and feel the leather in my clammy little hands, but on first impressions they certainly didn’t get my heart racing like when I first clapped eyes on the Phoebe, Alexa and Bryn.
But who am I to comment? What qualifies me to be so dismissive of the work of Spaniard Coca, a man who cut his teeth at Louis Vuitton then at Céline, before working closely with Michael Kors and then Phoebe Philo? Not much, other than I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Mulberry fan who has spent thousands on the brand over the years. The kind of person Coca hopes to entice to flex my credit card on his new collection. He was brought in to revive flagging sales and the bottom line is where his future at the brand will be decided, and with that in mind, he needs to toe the line between being a visionary and giving fans – and people new to the Mulberry brand – bags they love and NEED to have. I feel with this collection he has somewhat missed the mark.
I understand that creative directors like to put their own stamp on a brand and that catwalk selections can be a bit wild, but I can’t help but feeling that with his SS18 collection, Coca has instead stamped all over everything Mulberry fans used to love.
So it is with sadness that I sit here wondering what to make of Mulberry and its new direction. I just hope that Coca fine-tunes his compass sometime soon.