- Danielle Wightman-Stone |
British heritage brand Mulberry has confirmed that Johnny Coca is leaving his role as creative director after five years, at the end of March 2020.
Coca joined Mulberry in 2015 from Céline where he served as head design director for leather goods, accessories, shoes and jewellery, replacing Emma Hill, who left the British fashion house in 2013.
He was tasked with developing the luxury lifestyle vision for the brand, responsible for leading Mulberry’s design team on women’s and men’s leather accessories, shoes, ready-to-wear and soft accessories, as well as overseeing all creative aspects of the brand’s image.
During his tenure he oversaw the launch of a number of new bag families including the Amberley and Iris, as well as introducing eyewear and sneaker categories and relaunching the men’s accessories and jewellery ranges.
His five years as creative director also coincided with Mulberry’s successful international expansion programme that has seen the brand extend its global presence, supported by a programme of consumer events across the UK, Japan, South Korea, North America, Europe and Australia.
Johnny Coca creative director at Mulberry to leave at end of March 2020
Coca’s last collection for the brand will be spring/summer 2021, with Mulberry adding that they have already begun the process of finding a successor.
Thierry Andretta, chief executive officer of Mulberry, said in a statement: “I would like to thank Johnny for everything he has contributed to the brand over the past five years. Johnny’s creative vision has been a key element in delivering our strategy to develop Mulberry as an international luxury lifestyle brand. On behalf of the Mulberry board and entire team, we wish Johnny every success in his next venture.
“As we head towards our 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-customer omni-channel business model.”
Commenting on his departure, Johnny Coca added: “I have loved my time with this iconic British heritage brand and would like to thank the amazing teams and everyone who has supported me during my time here.
“I am proud of everything we have achieved and the collections we have created. The passion and dedication I have seen at Mulberry has been incredible and I am honoured to have been part of the brand’s history.”
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When Coca joined Mulberry there was a sense of anticipation on whether he could succeed after Emma Hill who really put an emphasis on the fashion house’s ability to create ‘it’ bags, however, the Spanish designer really made his mark early by focusing on the “Britishness” of the brand and making it a global lifestyle proposition.
He started by restoring the brand’s original 1970s logo that he found in the archives, with the iconic tree logo rebranded into a sophistication gold font, as well as reworking other aspects of Mulberry’s image, notably the introduction of bags with lower price points to appeal to more consumers.
His first major bag launch was the ‘Clifton’, a classic over-the-shoulder handbag with a chain strap that was available in a number of colourways, with prices starting at 595 pounds, however, it was the ‘Iris’, a modern, versatile, ladylike bag with a choice of a braided top handle or a long shoulder strap and the ‘Amberley’, a satchel design borrowed from equestrian styling that was designed to be worn on the shoulder or hands-free across the body that really made Coca’s mark on the Mulberry consumer.
Coca has also been at the forefront of Mulberry’s sustainability push, with the launch of the brand’s first 100 percent sustainable leather bag, the ‘Portobello’ tote that has been designed to be a more streamlined, luxurious and sustainable option to the plastic shopping bag. The tote is made entirely in the UK, at Mulberry’s carbon-neutral factories in Somerset, and uses a heavy grain leather from a gold-rated tannery with the material being a by-product of food production.
At the time of launch, Coca explained the design: “Our starting point for this family was the ultimate everyday item, the plastic bag – functional, but throwaway. The Portobello keeps the beautiful utility of this silhouette and elevates it into an elegant tote that is practical and, more importantly, made to last.”
This then lead to the M Collection, a capsule of bags and outerwear made using a blend of Econyl-branded regenerated nylon and sustainable cotton, as well as highlighting the fashion house’s craftsmanship to create a circular economy by offering restoration and repair services.
Johnny Coca will leave his role as creative director at Mulberry on March 31, with his last collection for the brand dropping for spring/summer 2021.
Images: courtsey of Mulberry