How London Department Store Liberty Is Reinventing Itself and Expanding into the US Market

The pandemic has accelerated the demise of many luxury names — including Neiman Marcus, which filed for bankruptcy last month. However, London’s historic Liberty department store has risen to the challenging circumstances. The team has used the enforced hiatus of lockdown to reinvent itself as a more commercially viable proposition to move forward into a post pandemic future.

In advance of the U.K.’s physical retail reopening for business on Monday, the heritage store has announced the launch of a new-look branding and logo concept, reimagined digital platform complete with dedicated shopping experience for U.S. customers and continued structural restoration.

Liberty store front
Liberty store front.
CREDIT: Liberty

The London landmark, originally built from the timbers of two ancient battleships, looked to its archive to inspire its updated identity. The retailer worked with design studio Pentagram, and new logo features the original typeface used in the historic sign that has swung above the store’s Great Marlborough Street entrance since it was established in 1925.

The new website, which launches today, will be the first place to display the new branding. The debut also sets out its U.S. expansion with a dedicated experience for American customers in addition to enhanced treatment of delivery, duties and payments for all other markets. According to Eric Fergusson, Liberty’s e-commerce director, the site is now faster than ever, also focusing on enhanced presentation of content to inspire the visitor.

The new logo has been sensitively and authentically redrawn by the team at Pentagram. It has been designed to be flexible so it can be repeated, layered and bent to cover packaging, campaigns and transform into its own repeat print. The bespoke Sans Serif font will also be used across the brand’s communications.

Liberty swing tag
Liberty swing tag.
CREDIT: Liberty

“The process of rebranding has been one of archaeology, craft and refinement, injecting a mixture of modernism and timeless classicism,” said Harry Pearce, a partner at Pentagram who lead the project.

“It’s a gift to have a brand with a name as evocative as Liberty — simplifying the logo to be the word alone gave it the impact it deserves. We were also excited by finding the ‘full stop’ (‘period’ to the United States) which has presented a great visual code which feels modern and can be used across our comms to highlight a definite statement,” added chief marketing officer Madeleine Macey. “Discovering the answer for the future look of Liberty in one of our original signs feels so right as it is how we approach everything at Liberty; balancing looking back, staying true to our heritage and looking into our future to build on our legacy.”

Gucci fall '20, Milan Fashion Week
Gucci fall ’20 Liberty collab, Milan Fashion Week
CREDIT: Shutterstock

As in house Liberty archivist Anna Buruma explained, there have been a huge number of logos throughout the brand’s history, all of which have been preserved in the archive. “All Liberty logos have reflected the times in which they were created,” she said. “Liberty means so many different things to so many different people, and I am delighted to see the launch of this bold new logo and branding, to take us to the next chapter in Liberty’s history.”

Even prior to the pandemic, Liberty had its finger firmly on the pulse. The brand collaborated with Kering cash cow Gucci on Alexandre Michele’s fall ’20 collection which featured Liberty archive print patterns across both ready-to-wear and accessories. Womenswear featured bohemian dresses and boxy pant suits while standout pieces from the men’s collection involved shirts and a quilted puffa jacket. Floral lace-ups and a printed take on the 1955 horsebit duffle bag handle bag completed the offering.

gucci, liberty print shoes
Liberty print collab shoes in Gucci’s fall ’20 collection at Milan Fashion Week.


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