Johnny Coca

LONDON — Johnny Coca is leaving his role as creative director of Mulberry after five years, the brand said Tuesday.  

Coca, who arrived at Mulberry from Celine in 2015, helped transform the British brand into a luxury lifestyle proposition, creating new bag families including the Amberley and Iris, introducing eyewear and sneaker categories and relaunching men’s accessories and jewelry ranges.

He also built up the footwear and ready-to-wear divisions, which are produced under license by Onward Luxury Group, and helped the company to push further into the sustainability sphere.

His tenure also coincided with a successful international expansion program that has seen the brand extend its global presence into markets including Japan, South Korea, North America, Europe and Australia. 

Coca’s last collection will be for spring 2021, and Mulberry said it has begun the process of finding a successor.

Thierry Andretta, chief executive officer of Mulberry, said Coca’s creative vision had been a “key element in delivering our strategy to develop Mulberry as an international luxury lifestyle brand.”

Andretta added that as the company heads toward its 50th anniversary in 2021, “we continue to focus on our strategy to build Mulberry as a global luxury brand. We remain committed to developing responsible, innovative products underpinned by a strong in-house creative team and our international direct-to-consumer omnichannel business model.”

The designer said he was proud of what he had achieved during his tenure. “The passion and dedication I have seen at Mulberry has been incredible and I am honored to have been part of the brand’s history,” he said.

Coca replaced Emma Hill, who left the company in 2013. His first show for Mulberry took place during London Fashion Week in 2016.

At the time, Coca had restored an original Seventies logo that he found in the brand archives. He would go on to rework other aspects of the brand’s image, giving it swagger with lots of bold accessories and British touches, from tartans, checks and trenchcoats, to punk and Sloane Ranger references.

During his tenure, Mulberry also transitioned from runway shows in London to Paris presentations in order to put the emphasis on its core accessories business.

His latest designs are in tune with Mulberry’s longstanding commitment to the circular economy: The brand has long urged its customers to send back bags to its Somerset factories to be repaired, and has a dedicated division that stockpiles hardware, leather and other materials so that even the oldest models can get a new life.

Earlier this year, Coca launched Mulberry’s 100 percent sustainable leather Portobello Tote and the M Collection, a capsule of bags and outerwear crafted from a blend of Econyl-branded regenerated nylon and sustainable cotton.

Earlier this year, when M Collection launched, Coca said the repeating M initial was a play on Brutalist architecture and English heritage textiles, such as houndstooth, “to create an urban, abstracted pattern that draws on our shared spaces and histories.”

Coca always argued that his mission was to preserve and protect Mulberry’s local flavor.

“I wanted to reinforce the British character and sensibility of Mulberry,” said Coca before his 2016 debut. “It’s quite humbling — to be trusted with this brand that people love and feel is very much part of them and their lives. In my role as creative director, I want to push the boundaries, but also respect the values and DNA at the core of Mulberry.”

Before joining Mulberry, Coca was head design director for leather goods, accessories, shoes and jewelry at Celine, working with Phoebe Philo who has since left that company, and is said to be readying her own brand. At Mulberry he has been overseeing women’s and men’s leather accessories, shoes, rtw and soft accessories, and all aspects of the brand’s image.

Born in Seville to Spanish parents, Coca later moved to Paris, where he studied art, architecture and design at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts, École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-Malaquais and École Boulle in Paris, respectively.