For a brand like Burberry that’s so rooted in its Britishness and history, the choice of Lee, a British designer, for chief creative officer will mean he understands the house’s design codes and can disrupt it without pushing it off the edge to become a completely new brand. Burberry is one of the few luxury brands that’s an official supplier to the royal household.
Christopher Bailey’s Burberry was too safe, but at its time, it drew in the new faces on the fashion horizon such as Cara Delevingne, Romeo Beckham, and in 2016 he launched a collaboration with actor and musician Kris Wu, the brand’s first ambassador in China.
Despite Riccardo Tisci’s buzzy past at Givenchy, where he served as creative director from 2005 to 2017, he didn’t emulate the same connection with Burberry. He tried to by introducing a new house monogram; TB logos and bringing his roster of celebrity friends to the brands, including Kanye West, Marina Abramović and Nicki Minaj.
Luckily for Lee, Tisci already set the path for change that he can take over from — Burberry is involved in sustainability, has a growing digital business in NFTs and consistently invests in cultural curations around the country.
The news of Lee’s appointment has the brand’s shares surging on the London Stock Exchange by 4.4 percent to 17.58 pounds in midmorning trading. And buyers are already gearing up for his February 2023 show.
“Bringing Daniel Lee back to the U.K. is exciting and I’m really looking forward to seeing Daniel’s interpretation of such a British icon, and his take on globally recognised motifs from the trenchcoat to the instantly recognisable Burberry check,” said Simon Longland, head of menswear and womenswear at Harrods.
At Mytheresa, vice president of womenswear and kidswear fashion buying Tiffany Hsu said she was excited for Lee’s “modern take on a heritage brand” and looking forward to watching how he translates the brand’s strong DNA into his own. “He is a master at this and it couldn’t be more fitting to have a British designer at the helm of Burberry.“
The stakes for Lee at Burberry will be higher than the ones set out for Tisci. He has become the industry’s King Midas for his magical touch at Bottega Veneta, an Italian fashion house that was laying low, but still had the credentials of its leather business that Lee cultivated by rolling out new designs such as the Pouch bag, the Cassette bag and the Lido sandals.
Lee was previously director of ready-to-wear design at Celine, which he joined in 2012, and has also worked at Maison Margiela, Balenciaga and Donna Karan.
Lee’s accessories became the brand’s golden crop that had a knock-on effect on the brand’s marketing strategy of blasting out billboard campaigns in big cities on the side of buildings, beach takeovers and even the Great Wall of China.
The trenchcoat, which remains Burberry’s centerpiece, financially and aesthetically is likely to be the first item Lee reimagines, but where he will succeed will be in injecting an aloof glamour to the house because the brand has always felt run-of-the-mill in comparison to the French and Italian luxury brands.
Lee, when he was at Bottega Veneta, wanted to do a Glastonbury takeover, but the offer was declined by the festival organization, according to industry sources.
Now with Burberry, there’s nothing more quintessentially British than a music festival with trenchcoats and wellies on the hottest homegrown talents.
Burberry’s show on Monday in south east London was Tisci’s swan song at the brand. Speculations had been brewing, but the company, which is 100 percent quoted on the London Stock Exchange, did not address any of the rumors.
In May, Burberry made a comeback with record revenue and higher-than-expected profits in fiscal 2021-22 despite taking a hit from its biggest market, China. Revenue in the 53 weeks ended April 2 rose 21 percent to 2.83 billion pounds.
Jonathan Akeroyd, Burberry’s new chief executive officer, was named in October 2021 after a five-year stint as CEO of Versace and started at the company on April 1.
Lee’s appointment has been Akeroyd’s first major change at the British heritage brand. He will unveil his plans publicly at the November interim results.