If Thierry Andretta knows one thing, it’s that remaining relevant in today’s fashion industry is paramount. Having surveyed the scene for some time, the brand began adopting the debate worthy see-now, buy-now format favoured by the likes of Burberry and Moschino last year, and has recently opened a mouth-wateringly sumptuous store in Dubai Mall’s super sleek Fashion Avenue. We caught up with Chief Executive Thierry Andretta to find out how to square ‘British Heritage’ in the Middle East.
Harper's BAZAAR Arabia: What does Mulberry really mean to you?
Thierry Andretta: Mulberry has always been seen as an iconic British brand. I was a customer of Mulberry in the beginning of the 90s. It has always been consistent in representing what I call ‘British contradiction’, where modernity and tradition live side by side. As a brand that moved from the countryside to London, in the early days (close to 50 years ago) they did great things in explaining to London that the British countryside can be cool. Today, we want to communicate that British is cool via a contradiction between historical tradition and the invention of the new.
HBA: Was this notion at the heart of the conception of this store?
TA: Absolutely. We selected an architect that is a British rising star and instead of asking for a store concept, we asked for an entertainment and event space where we can also sell in order to be more customer-centric.
Fashion Avenue, The Dubai Mall
HBA: How would you define the Mulberry woman?
TA: She is a modern, international woman. Very open spirited and with a really strong individualist point of view. She is someone who knows what she wants and knows how to get what she wants.
HBA: How well do you feel that the Mulberry’s British heritage translates over to the Middle East?
TA: Generally I have found that Middle-Easterners have a great love for London. I personally think that since moving to London thanks to the arrival of our Creative Director, Johnny Coca four years ago, we have managed to tap into a younger, edgier audience which really speaks to the Middle Eastern customer also.
Fashion Avenue, The Dubai Mall
HBA: What do you think the key to having a successful brand in today’s fashion market is?
TA: It’s really engaging to have individual communication with our local customers. With the younger generation, what is interesting is that they want to know tonnes of things about the brand, but they also want to have an individual approach and sometimes they even want to have a one-on-one experience. We learn a lot from social media and we try to check all the messages we receive for feedback and to learn about how we can apply what people are asking for to the product. I think, this mentality is extremely important in today’s world.
HBA: Do you think that capsule collections are important to keep releasing to stay relevant today?
TA: We are really proud of what we have. We have two factories and 600 craftsmen in the UK. But we had a little movement one year ago where we found ourselves with two artisan studios where our top craftsmen work on only capsule pieces, limited series and special products. This is a request that we are receiving more and more and I think the world is moving in this way. Everyone would like to have something that is more individual and less normal.
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Colour in the Lines: From bold brights and subdued shades to unconventional combinations, there's a #MulberryMillie for every woman. In the design process at our London studio, there’s no science behind the colours assigned to bags, it’s a combination of art and instinct.⠀ ⠀ These photos were shot at The Willows, one of our two Somerset factories. We are proud to employ a community of over 500 craftspeople across these factories and we are proud to celebrate #LondonCraftWeek
HBA: Mulberry’s accessories are such iconic wardrobe staples, do you envisage the ready-to-wear achieving the same status?
TA: Yes I certainly hope so. We maintain such a strong connection between accessories and our other categories. Ready-to-wear, shoes, jewellery, and even soft accessories are becoming more and more integrated.
HBA: What’s your favourite thing about the UK?
TA: The British contradiction. It’s wonderful to live in a country and capital city where there is a traditional Royal family steeped in history alongside a modern, young generation that are moving the universe to the next step.