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Interview With Christopher Bailey

Aired February 25, 2010 - 00:00:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's a new trend when it comes to checking out the latest (INAUDIBLE). This Tuesday, London label Burberry brings its awesome autumn-winter 2010 women's wear show live from London to 3-D screenings in New York, LA, Paris, Dubai and Tokyo. That means fashionistas no longer have to beg, borrow or steal a ticket to the show to check out the follow-up spring, summer softly tailored trench coats.

Not only that, the brand is making a big impact on social media sites, taking Twitter and Facebook by storm. There, they offer fans not only a showcase of Burberry's collections, but behind the scenes access to its creative directors and celebrity poster girl, Emma Watson.

The creative brain behind the luxury brand, Christopher Bailey, is your Connector of the Day.


ANDERSON: Well, fresh from showcasing his latest collection at London Fashion Week, Christopher Bailey spoke to me at Burberry's headquarters in London.

And we began by talking about this 3-D live stream of his show.

Now, one of our viewers, Harriet, called it, quote, "another fashion foot forward."

So I asked your Connector if he thought 3-D work was the future for the catwalk or possibly just a gimmick.

This is what he said.


CHRISTOPHER BAILEY, CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER, BURBERRY: It's absolutely the future. You know, it -- it's -- you know, I -- I don't see it in a cynical way at all. I think, you know, it -- it's a fashion company by its nature is about moving forward. And, you know, this is a great British brand that -- that -- that loves and embraces change, challenges and -- and the way that the world is -- is moving.

So, no, it's absolutely not -- not about gimmick. It's about understanding the -- the complexities of communication and how you can do that seamlessly.

ANDERSON: We're talking about a fashion house here and yet, to a certain extent, I feel as if we're talking about a media company. Your push into the social media sphere has been quite remarkable. I think you've got nearly 900,000 fans on Facebook and the -- the sites -- the -- it has its own site, Out of the Trench, as well. It has received something like -- am I right to say five million plus page hits?

BAILEY: Yes. And the amazing thing is people stay on that site for over five-and-a-half minutes, which is kind of unheard of, as well.

ANDERSON: OK, talk me through why the brand is pursuing the social media environment so aggressively.

BAILEY: I think it's -- it's, you know, I sometimes describe the company as this young-old company. It's 154 years old, but it's a very young team of people. And it's just -- it's something that we all live with on a day to day basis. It's not something that we come into the office and say we must do this, we must do this. We're interested and excited.

And then we -- we try to think how we can execute that, does it have relevance for our -- for our brand.

You've got to have such a strong point of view. You've got to -- you've got to know who you are and you've got to express and articulate that point of view from -- for everything that the consumer -- a future consumer, somebody interested in the brand, somebody from the industry, someone from other industries, they need to feel who you are and -- and what you stand for.

ANDERSON: But this doesn't, I assume, change the nature of what you do at the end of the day.

Where will the company be in 10 years time, for example?

What will it be in 10 years time?

BAILEY: We will always be an outerwear company. We, you know, we were born from a trench coat where, you know, the collections are always about outerwear. The -- the product is -- is the star of all this. We still have -- you know, our design studio is still -- you know, I'm still designing beautiful clothes, I hope; beautiful bags; beautiful accessories, you know. And so that's what we're doing. It's how you then express the message.

ANDERSON: Let's get to some viewer questions, Chris.

Lucy Bartlett, who's studying at the London College of Fashion, asks this: "Was the appointment of Emma Watson and her brother Alex and the other young faces in the music and fashion industry a conscious decision to market the brand to a younger audience demographic?"

BAILEY: Hi, Lucy.

No, it was not a conscious decision to -- to -- to kind of talk to a different audience. You know, everything that we do is instinct, you know. And I -- I -- I've worked with -- with Emma for -- for several seasons and known her for -- for quite some time. I met Alex, her brother. George Craig is a mate of mine from the band One Night Only. And it just felt right to kind of put that -- that gang together.

So it's -- you know, it's never something that we over analyze. I think you have to listen to your -- your gut instinct.

ANDERSON: Steven has written in and he says: "What do you think are the key elements to building a powerful brand like Burberry and sustaining it long-term?"

Good question.

BAILEY: Yes, yes, it's a great question. And I think it's having a vision, a point of view and staying pure to the brand, but also challenging the -- the perceptions of the brand, you know, because all around the world, you know, everybody has a slightly different perception and it's trying to unite that so that people know what you stand for and where you're going.

ANDERSON: Nigel asks: "Why do you think your brand is especially adored by the what the British people call chaps?"

BAILEY: I'm not so sure. You know, I -- I think it's a -- that's a British thing. And actually, it's -- it's not something that -- that, you know, I -- I hear so much about anymore. I think it was something that happened in the -- in the media more than anything else.

ANDERSON: David R. says: "There are a lot of counterfeit Burberry good going around and this must undermine the brand's image. Given this significant violation or potential dilution," he says, "why should we continue to pay high prices for the likes of Burberry or Luis Vuitton, that are becoming, to a certain extent, stigmatized," he says, in -- in this way?

BAILEY: The problem is so much bigger than -- than, you know, the -- what it's doing to the brand. You know, I think -- you know, if somebody buys something counterfeit off a market and then they get a rash or it falls apart, they think of it as Burberry. So it's our role to -- to -- to stamp that out.

And, also, because we don't control their supply chain and who knows where they're producing that -- that counterfeit?

So it's something we take very seriously and -- you know, and -- and we're working together -- all the luxury companies work together.

ANDERSON: Keira asks or certainly would like to know if Burberry would, "ever consider making their merchandise more affordable, she says, or has their clientele remained unaffected by the downward economy?"

BAILEY: I think, you know, when -- when we design the collections, we always make sure that we -- we build it as a -- we call it a pyramid, that you have, you know, yes, very aspirational real luxury and, you know, and there's a price tag with that. But we also have opening price points. So, you know, we also do clothes, we do fragrances, we do accessories that are much more opening price points and democratic.

ANDERSON: Christopher Bailey, frighteningly bright and frighteningly brilliant, I would say, and the chief creative officer at Burberry.

Tomorrow, our Connector of the Day is the women's marathon world record holder, British long distance runner, Paula Radcliffe joins us in the hot seat and inspiration to many of you -- to many young athletes. Paula is also a passionate spokesperson against drug cheats.

So get your thinking caps on.

What do you want to ask Paula?

Send us your questions, That is up tomorrow.