While the billowy, hand-painted trenches Burberry showed at its fall 2014 runway show got their fair share of critical love, it's the brand's monogrammed blanket ponchos that have really hit home, not only with street style photographers but also with customers.
That particular success was part of a solid, if geographically patchy, third quarter. For the three months leading up to December 31, Burberry brought in £604 million (about $917 million) in revenue, a 15 percent increase from the year before. Its double-digit growth in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Africa was tempered somewhat by low single-digit gains in Hong Kong, which accounts for about 10 percent of global sales, Burberry CFO Carol Fairweather said on the company's quarterly earnings call.
But back to the goods. According to Fairweather, customization was a big theme, which makes sense during the holidays, since monogramming says "I love you" a tad more clearly than an unadorned gift. Over 70 percent of ponchos sold got the initialing treatment, as did nearly the same proportion of My Burberry fragrance bottles.
Heritage trenches and cashmere scarves came out on top as well, aided by strong marketing and what Fairweather describes as the "halo effect" of the My Burberry launch. The ad campaign has Cara Delevingne and Kate Moss wearing classic khaki trenches, and the bottle's lid looks like a giant tortoiseshell button; the fragrance itself is meant to smell wet and fresh, like a rainfall in a garden. So it seems leveraging beauty and ready-to-wear against each other can be a winning formula.
At this point, outerwear represents about half of apparel sales, and of that, half is rainwear. The bulk of those sales come from the heritage trench. So the success of that particular product is pretty helpful to Burberry on a whole.
Now the brand just needs Hong Kong to rally.