LONDON — Burberry shares have been rising steadily on the London Stock Exchange after the brand named the vibrant, multi-talented Riccardo Tisci to replace Christopher Bailey as chief creative officer, effective March 12. At 10:35 a.m. GMT, the shares were up 5.2 percent to 16.13 pounds, and by noon, they’d reached a high of 16.41 pounds.
Retailers and analysts applauded an appointment that will see the reunion of Burberry’s chief executive officer Marco Gobbetti and Tisci, who worked closely together at Givenchy, where the former served as CEO and the latter as its couturier. Together, they set that brand alight, with Gobbetti spotting Tisci’s talents early on, and giving him the freedom to build a new DNA for the French brand.
What rebirth it was: Tisci spent more than a decade at Givenchy, where he was creative director from 2005 to 2017, cooking up a potent mix of sizzle, streetwear sensibility, pulse-pounding runway shows – and commercial success across all categories. Men’s wear became Givenchy’s number one category on Tisci’s watch, a rarity among the big fashion brands. By the time he exited the company last January, Givenchy had increased more than sixfold in size to 500 million euros, according to sources.
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Tisci, a graduate of Central Saint Martins in London, will be based in London, direct all Burberry collections and present his first collection for the brand in September. The debut will come sooner than the brand had anticipated: When Bailey stepped down in October, he said February was to be his last collection, with an in-house team likely working on the September outing.
While Tisci’s arrival at Burberry marks a new beginning, it also signals the end of a dramatic narrative for the designer: Rumors were rampant last year that Tisci was to join Versace, but the much talked-about deal never materialized, despite Tisci’s close relationship with Donatella Versace.
“Riccardo is one of the most talented designers of our time,” said Gobbetti. “His designs have an elegance that is contemporary and his skill in blending streetwear with high fashion is highly relevant to today’s luxury consumer. Riccardo’s creative vision will reinforce the ambitions we have for Burberry and position the brand firmly in luxury.”
Tisci said he was happy to be joining Burberry and reuniting with Gobbetti. “I have an enormous respect for Burberry’s British heritage and global appeal and I am excited about the potential of this exceptional brand.”
Retailers and analysts alike gave Gobbetti’s decision the thumbs up, saying Tisci will fulfill the ceo’s strategies of cementing Burberry in the luxury space and appealing to a new and younger consumer.
“I’m excited, I think it’s great. It’s amazing that he worked with Marco, I think it is going to be seamless so I’m very happy,” said Mario Grauso, president of Holt, Renfrew and Co. “I think he can play with the historic codes beautifully, I’m excited, I think it’s gonna be good. We have a beautiful business with Burberry, really nice size. The store carries the men’s and women’s collection in all of its doors, he said.
Jim Gold, president and chief merchandising officer of Neiman Marcus, said: “We love the idea. We are huge fans of Riccardo, we think he is one of the great designers working today, one of the most creative. He has a keen sense of what is happening on the street and also a great appreciation for luxury and quality. I have every confidence that Marco will continue to offer the kinds of products that have made Burberry so popular, but infuse them with newness and creativity that will create even greater demand for the brand.”
Andrew Keith, president of Lane Crawford, called the partnership “exciting” and said Tisci would bring a different energy and sensibility to the brand, “which could resonate with a new audience. I think, similarly, his passion for street, music, youth culture and digital will take Burberry forward in a very dynamic, new way. And I look forward to seeing that.”
Coco Chan, head of women’s wear at Stylebop.com, pointed to Tisci’s skills as a brand builder and celebrity magnet. “At Givenchy, he took a stagnant house and largely re-wrote the codes, making it all his own. The task is certainly different at Burberry – you have a house with a globally recognizable aesthetic, a brand so steeped in British culture. This is not just a fashion brand, but a kind of national treasure. There are certainly greater considerations there than with most other luxury brands. I think it will be a benefit to him to have established codes to work within and to evolve. How he will reinterpret the Burberry check? The mind boggles.”
Financial analysts, who had been tough on Gobbetti during the third-quarter results presentation in January, pressuring him to pick Bailey’s successor sooner rather than later, said Tisci’s appointment would be good for business.
“The appointment could trigger excitement and support for the stock,” said Luca Solca at Exane BNP Paribas, calling the announcement an “incremental positive, given Tisci’s strong track record and high profile.
Rogerio Fujimori of RBC Capital Markets said: “Mr. Tisci seems to be a good fit to Burberry’s medium-term ambition to position itself firmly in luxury, with more fashion content and stronger presence is accessories.”