Mulberry Asks: Can a Handbag Save the World?
Fans of the Bayswater and Alexa handbags at our newly opened Mulberry boutique—the first from the legendary British brand on the West Coast—have new reason to believe their beloved accessories will last a lifetime, thanks to a just-debuted program.
As part of its 50th-anniversary celebration throughout 2021, on Earth Day the label launched the Mulberry Made to Last Manifesto, an innovative and ambitious program that reinforces its commitment to eco-conscious practices and sustainability. “This is the evolution in 2021 of something started 50 years ago,” Mulberry CEO Thierry Andretta said, referencing the now-famous story of founder Roger Saul crafting the first designs at his kitchen table in Somerset, England in 1971. “The brand began by using offcuts and the remains of the shoe-leather industry from Somerset. So, since day one we have offered lifetime service and focused on sustainability.”
A Passionate Commitment
Mulberry Made to Last takes a multi-pronged, circular approach to create both a forward-thinking product and comprehensive supply-chain experience, and all with an eye toward the brand reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2035. That starts with resourcing low-carbon leather from regenerative and organic farms across the U.K. and Europe and working with accredited tanneries likewise committed to sustainable practices; the result is a collection of “farm to finished product” British bags Mulberry is due to launch this year.
Recognizing that its bags play an ongoing role in stylish wardrobes, Mulberry is also reinforcing its Repairs & Restoration services, a team that currently handles approximately 10,000 bags each year at The Rookery, the factory in Somerset that continues to craft 50 percent of the brand’s styles. Luxury brands often highlight the idea of a “forever bag,” a nickname for heritage pieces essential to every closet, but Mulberry is among the high-end labels striving to make that an effortless idea. With an archive of leathers and hardware that extends back 35 years, the Repairs & Restoration team enables consumers to keep their bag looking fresh and new quite literally for decades.
“This is the evolution in 2021 of something started 50 years ago.”
– Mulberry CEO Thierry Andretta
Handbags That Live Forever
If you’re on the hunt for a pre-loved or vintage Mulberry bag, the brand is making that easy as well: Mulberry Exchange, a resell and buyback program, launched in-store in 2020 and will expand to a digital presence this spring. Each bag in Mulberry Exchange has been authenticated and refurbished by the artisans in Somerset, allowing its lifecycle to continue for new and longtime fans of the brand alike. (Several of the brand’s craftspeople also have been asked, alongside global sustainability experts and other advocates for responsible sourcing, to serve as ambassadors of the program.)
No-waste, recyclable packaging is also key, with Mulberry committed to 100-percent curbside recycling by the end of 2021. And as the final element of Mulberry’s manifesto, the brand has not only committed to a genuine Living Wage program for all of its employees, it’s extending that mandate to its network of global suppliers as well.
The Ultimate Feel-Good Accessory
Fold each of these elements together, and the result may be the ideal combination of an iconic product from a luxury brand that’s wholly transparent about its craft and practices. With sustainability the conversation every fashion brand is exploring these days, Mulberry is setting a stylish tone that’s also steeped in feel-good philosophy. “Whilst we are at the beginning of this transition, I am immensely proud of my colleagues and the work done to launch the Made to Last Manifesto,” Andretta said. “We look forward to the challenges ahead.”