When it comes to turning a brand around from something beautiful with so much heritage to a brand that still has these qualities AND all the cool kids want to be associated with, it's pretty damn impressive.
Emma Hill had the vision when she joined Mulberry as the Creative Director in 2008 and under her direction the brand has gone from strength to strength with a growing international reputation and a commercial performance to match. She introduced the relaxed modern hobo shapes of the Mitzi and Daria to the collection and was responsible for the Alexa mania after launching the contemporary satchel style. And of course the bag family has extended since then with Lily, Taylor, Evelina, Bryn and the Del Rey.
I'm a mad bag-hag from way back, have followed Emma's career over the past decade (Chloe, Marc Jacobs, Gap, Temperley) own a Mulberry (or two) and after our interview, admire and like her even more. This, is one clever (and refreshingly real) lady.
Q. How would you sum up your personal style in 5 words?
A. Effortless, comfortable, dressed up, dressed down, practical!
Q. Where do you gain your inspirations when designing a new collection?
A. Films are a great source of inspiration. It could be a film that my son has seen and loves or it could be an old film from years ago. There tends to be something I’ve seen that starts the initial inspiration, however abstract, and then when I tell the team it morphs into more anchoring inspirations: films, photos, people, places, and then eventually the collection comes out.
Q. What has been the most significant change in the creative direction of Mulberry in the past 5 years?
A. I think extending the Mulberry brand and family around the world, and introducing Mulberry to a new and ever-changing and growing audience. The brand is evolving every day and it’s so amazing to reflect on the changes and successes we’ve had so far. As long as we keep our authenticity, and continue to celebrate craft and creativity we’ll continue to evolve and go new places. It’s very exciting.
Q. Mulberry is based on English quirkiness, how do you think this translates into different regions?
A. Britishness is often a peculiar mix of seemingly contradictory characteristics; it's this juxtaposition that we really play with at Mulberry. On one hand we are making crafted, authentic, very practical, long lasting product, on the other we are irreverent, fun, friendly and warm. It's this very carefully crafted approach to the design of the bags that makes them simultaneously so desirable, so familiar and quintessentially British. I think even though there are sometimes issues translating some of the eccentricities of the English character abroad, I think people still admire our passion for our country and like to celebrate our personality.
Q. I love that Mulberry knits are hand woven by grannies in the highlands of Scotland. Are there any other crafty secrets you can share?
A. It’s not a secret, but I always like to share how fantastic it is to visit The Rookery, our UK factory, and see all the young craftsmen and women at work. They’re such an asset to the brand and the reason we have the reputation we do for beautiful craftsmanship.
Q. What are the qualities you look for in your brand ambassadors?
A. I like to think that all our customers our brand ambassadors. They are the people who judge the products, who buy them, who use them and love them. We listen to and look at them, they’re who we design for. It is lovely to see anyone carrying or wearing Mulberry – I still feel a bit surprised when I see it and think ‘oh, I designed that and she likes it!’
Q. Music plays an important role for Mulberry with your recent collaboration with Lana Del Rey and the coveted Mulberry Coachella party. Who is on your radar right now?
A. Music is my other passion! We’ve been lucky enough work with some amazing people in the past, from Hot Chip to Hurts and enjoying projects at Glastonbury and Coachella - we do really love a party! At the moment the studio is listening to Wild Belle, who played at our Coachella pool party and also Jessie Wear and Gotye are being played a lot!
Q. What is your all time favourite design from any of your collections? One you could never give up.
A. I could never pick just one, it would be like picking a child, I just couldn’t do it! However I love the Black Ostrich Del Rey at the moment, fits everything bar the kitchen sink in it – useful for me as I’m always carrying more than I need!
Q. Mulberry has gone from strength to strength with you at the helm which is no mean feat. Do you find it easy to separate your work and home life?
A. I’m so lucky to have an amazing design team – they’re my second family and I always feel energised and creative when I’m with them. They’re also super supportive of my ‘mum’ side – my son is always welcomed! At home I like to devote all the time I can to him – watching films, cooking…it’s a totally different world to Mulberry but I like the balance of both.
Q. What is your all time favourite song?
A. I’m not sure about my all-time favourite song but I can tell you ‘Mah Na Mah Na’ by The Muppets closed the Autumn Winter 2012 show and it’s been stuck in my head ever since!
Q. A huge congratulations on recently being made a CBE.
A. Thank you very much; It is a really lovely and very unexpected honour. I feel like I am accepting it on behalf of the whole of Mulberry, as a reflection of what the business as a whole has achieved over the last four years. As an English brand with a passion for Great British creativity, craft and manufacturing we are absolutely delighted to have been recognised in this way.
|Arizona Muse carries Del Rey|
|Del Rey sketch|
|Lana Del Rey with her namesake bag|
|Preggo Sienna Miller with Del Rey|