Burberry, Britain's biggest luxury fashion label, has rediscovered a patriotic streak and is to turn its back on Milan Fashion Week in favour of showing its new collection in London.
Worn by celebrities from Agyness Deyn to Jennifer Aniston, Burberry Prorsum will close London Fashion Week with its spring/summer 2010 collection this September.
The benefits to the British fashion industry are clear. By securing an internationally renowned label with both design credibility and commercial power – Burberry's revenues exceeded £1bn for the first time last year, despite a profit fall of 13 per cent – London Fashion Week is likely to attract more buyers and more publicity.
At a time when the recession means that many smaller labels will struggle, the organisers will be hoping that some of that attention will rub off on up-and-coming homegrown names. It will also help boost the reputation of London Fashion Week itself. Last year, its position within the fashion show calender was threatened by New York's plans to muscle in on London's dates, before a last-minute compromise was agreed.
However, the move is also likely to benefit Burberry, even if it is only confirmed for one season. Showing in London will guarantee more publicity than the label would receive in Milan, despite the Italian city's greater prestige.
It is less expensive to stage a show in London – although costs vary according to the venue and the models – and, perhaps most importantly, the decision underlines the label's Britishness.
Burberry's image as a 153-year-old "heritage" brand is an integral part of its appeal, but in 2007 that image was dented by a high profile campaign by celebrities such as Emma Thompson against the company's decision to switch production from its factory in Wales to China. Showing at London Fashion Week should counteract any lingering bad publicity caused by the closure.
The move from Milan, where the prestigious Burberry Prorsum line has been shown since June 2001, has been timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of London Fashion Week and the British Fashion Council.
Burberry is by no means the first British label to show its collection here after staging it abroad, but given its Prorsum line has never been shown in London, the move is not a return.
In 2007, Luella Bartley brought her catwalk show back to the capital, where it has since remained, while Matthew Williamson returned for one season. Vivienne Westwood has been showing her Red line in London, after relocating from Paris, since February 2008.
With the British Fashion Council set to announce the return of more well-known names to London Fashion Week, the 2009 event promises to be a memorable one.
Burberry's creative director, Christopher Bailey, who is credited with rescuing Burberry's image from the overexposure of the late Nineties, said: "As a British company we are thrilled to be showing during London Fashion Week, especially as it celebrates its 25th anniversary. London is our home – it's the heart of this global luxury brand and the centre of all our creativity."Reuse content