Burberry has quickly become, perhaps indisputably, the most tech-savvy major fashion brand in the world. So we guess it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that its CEO Angela Ahrendts has left the label for techy-er pastures.
Ahrendts will join Apple as a senior vice president in a newly created position that will involve overseeing retail and online stores, Reuters reports. A few other reasons why this isn’t all that surprising: Burberry recently collaborated with Apple, promoting its Spring 2014 show using images and video taken with the new iPhone 5S. Ahrendts even once told the Wall Street Journal, “If I look to any company as a model, it’s Apple. They’re a brilliant design company working to create a lifestyle, and that’s the way I see us.”
Also, this is the second recent instance of Apple bringing on a fashion exec. Paul Deneve, former YSL CEO, joined Apple as a vice president this summer to work on “special projects.” Both hires are likely tied to beefing up retail.
Though, what the move means for Apple is just as interesting as what it means for Burberry. In a pretty unusual move, Ahrendts is being replaced by designer and Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey.
Bailey and Ahrendts worked together to turn Burberry back into a valuable, high-end luxury brand after years of being plagued by mass market knock-offs, as well as expanding its retail business globally. Bailey certainly played a role in that beyond just designing clothes, and is undoubtedly commercially-minded. Plus, Burberry is a big company–it’s not like he’ll be running everything by himself.
Still, it sounds like some are taking in the news with a bit of skepticism. According to WWD, shares in the company fell as much as 7.2% once it was announced. HSBC analysts Antoine Belge and Erwan Rambourg told WWD that “While Christopher Bailey has proven to be a phenomenal designer, the jury will be out in terms of him running the company as CEO.”