5 Minutes With… Mulberry Brand Director, Georgia Fendley

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The Brilliant Britain press breakfast may have involved setting my alarm for an eye-wateringly early hour but Mulberry sure as hell know how to make a crack-of-dawn wake up call that little bit easier. Not only was there the promise of a far more delicious start to the day than my microwave porridge and an introduction to the project to entice me out of bed, but I’d also been promised the chance to chat with Mulberry’s brand director, Georgia Fendley.

As a die-hard Mulberry fanatic, I could have quite happily picked Georgia’s brains all day. But given her major role at one of the world’s most coveted brands, I kept things short and sweet. Enjoy…

LPA: When I think of Mulberry, one of the first things that springs to mind is its’ British heritage. Why do you think this is such an important aspect of the brand?

GF: Our brand is rooted in it’s craft heritage which is authentically British. For generations leather craftspeople in the West Country have been working with the best raw materials, the area was originally known for it’s wool production but for the last hundred years has been renowned for the quality of it’s leather craft. This manufacturing foundation and the brands commitment to preserving craft in Britain reflects in every aspect of the brand. Added to this Mulberry is so well established in the UK, it has become woven into British life and experience, many of us grew up coveting Mulberry handbags, they have become shorthand for British luxury and a relaxed sense of British style. Mulberry reflects many quintessentially British characteristics, creating bags which are simultaneously luxurious, desirable and rigorous and practical.

LPA: Since its’ launch in 1971 Mulberry has grown to become a global brand with stores and loyal shoppers all over the world. How much production is still done in the UK?

GF: As much as possible, this year we have extended our Somerset factory, The Rookery, increasing capacity by 30% and we have also announced the creation of a second factory, again in the West Country, building starts next month and the site should be fully operational in 2013. We are committed to manufacturing in Britain and will increase capacity as required, without ever compromising quality. We also manufacture product outside of the UK, especially our Ready to Wear, Shoes and smaller gift items, in each case we source the best manufacturers for the design the team has created and always ensure sourcing meets our strict standards

LPA: In recent years Mulberry has proved hugely popular with Hollywood and leading ladies ranging from Kate Bosworth to Lily Collins can be counted as fans. What do you think is it about quintessential British style that appeals so greatly to a wider, and extremely stylish, audience?

GF: I think British Style is beautifully mixed up! We create refined luxury goods that wear beautifully with age, giving them a love-worn patina that delivers a kind of British cool, very special but relaxed, confident, clever and not brash. The rich heritage of British culture is so established we can confidently take it for granted, British style is often about subverting historic dress codes and exquisite craft, mixing things up and expressing your own individuality. It’s not about dressing head to toe in a brand or self consciously wearing status labels

LPA: Mulberry’s latest venture, Brilliant Britain, has been penned as ‘a love letter to the nation’. As a Brit I naturally support any celebration of all things English, but why did you decide to launch this project now?

GF: We were approached to participate in the governments GREAT campaign, whilst we were hugely supportive we didn’t just want to be a logo on an add, we wanted to give something back and ideally create something lasting. We came up with the idea of Brilliant Britain because we felt that lots of our favourite things were often overlooked. Those British things that inspire and excite us often don’t get a look in, being overshadowed by big corporate business. Brilliant Britain is an idea we hope everyone will enjoy and add to, it’s great to see the nominations pouring in, some expected and some totally surprising but all brilliantly British

LPA: Aside from the gorgeous handbags, one of the things I’ve always personally found so impressive about Mulberry is the way you’ve embraced social media and used it to connect with your customers. How will you be using digital platforms to get the general public involved in Brilliant Britain?

GF: Thank you! I’d like to say this was a strategic plan and demonstrates how technically advanced we are but I suspect it’s about something much more basic and very British, we love to talk! We love to communicate and we have lots to say, we want to share ideas, participate in projects and let people into our world, if we are fascinated by our craft processes we guess some of our customers will be too and we want to share that experience. If we have been inspired by an Artist, musician or a project we want to tell everyone about it and share our passions. If you feel like this digital platforms are an absolute gift, people can choose to interact with the elements of our brand they are interested in. In the case of Brilliant Britain it’s all about the website, we have simply started the ball rolling with some content to kick things off, very soon the majority of the content will have been supplied by the audience and we hope in this way the website will become a unique resource, if the idea is resonant enough the project will be promoted organically by the audience using whatever social media channels they feel most comfortable with. This is all about a great idea, great quality content and not about superficial marketing, great content is magnetic in the digital realm

LPA: What, in your opinion, makes Britain so brilliant?

The British! We are a cultural and racial melting pot, warm, funny, stoic, self-effacing, brave, bold and creative

Love Ella. X

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