Daniel Lee is going to Burberry. Here’s what it means for British fashion

Daniel Lee is going to Burberry, and it’s good news for British fashion | Soho House

The former creative director of Bottega Veneta has joined the brand

Wednesday 28 September 2022    By Teo van den Broeke

It was announced this morning that Daniel Lee, the celebrated former creative director of Italian fashion house Bottega Veneta, will be taking Riccardo Tisci’s place at the helm of Burberry, effective this week. The announcement comes just two days after Tisci’s barnstorming SS23 show for the storied British brand.

Despite Tisci bringing a great deal of positive energy to Burberry when he joined in 2018 – introducing a smart new monogram designed by Peter Saville and injecting the label with a much-needed dose of fashion with a capital ‘F’ – Burberry fell victim to the pandemic. Revenue steadily fell from £2.8bn in 2018 when he joined, to a low of £2.3bn in 2021. Things levelled out again this year, but by that point it was apparently too late for the brand’s shareholders.

Daniel Lee, the Yorkshire-born designer who trained under Phoebe Philo at Celine and made his name with his tactile vision at Bottega Veneta, joins Burberry after a year out of the spotlight. Burberry’s CEO Jonathan Akeroyd (formerly of Versace) will no doubt be eager to replicate Lee’s success at Bottega, where by way of his ultra-Instagram-friendly collections, a super-smart development of a signature colour in place of a logo (seen a lot of ‘parakeet’ green out and about? You can thank Lee for that) and a series of clever celebrity partnerships (who else could get Skepta in a boucle twinset?), he put the Veneto-based brand on the fashion map. 

But what do these upper fashion echelons power moves mean in a macro sense? And why should you care? The short answer is that Lee’s appointment could potentially do some good for the British fashion industry as a whole, simply by way of its novelty.

It’s no secret that since the scourge of both the pandemic and Brexit, fashion – like many creative industries – has struggled to return to form. The impact was felt particularly keenly in the UK where creativity is strong, but many fashion businesses are small, and the long years of diminished consumer spending and punitive import/ export challenges have taken their toll.

It is essential for the wellbeing of an industry that its most prominent player remains in rude health. Much as a fighting fit apex predator will act as negative feedback on the prey population, providing ecological stability, the global success of a brand like Burberry, which is so rooted in and defined by the British consumer imagination, will only have a positive impact on the health of the system as a whole. 

‘We look forward to seeing Burberry’s next chapter under Daniel’s creative charge,’ Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council tells Soho House. ‘He is a brilliant designer and a real champion of the next generation of talent, a core component to the UK’s fashion industry.’

In terms of the actual clothes we can expect to see from Lee’s Burberry, we’re hoping for plenty of the ASMR-infused ultra-tactile vibe he perfected at Bottega – think the signature house check woven in leather, intrecciato-style – a silhouette defined by a roomy kind of sexiness and a wonderfully British smorgasbord of fabric interplay. Lee is a master of making quotidian cloth feel super luxe, and given that the UK was once a global centre for superlative fabric production – from tweed and cashmere to corduroy and the gabardine with which Thomas Burberry first made his name – we’re holding out hope for collections as rich in quirk as they are in texture. 

‘I am honoured to join Burberry as Chief Creative Officer,’ said Lee of his appointment. ‘Together with the team, we will write the exciting next chapter for this legendary British luxury brand, continuing its historic heritage and building on Riccardo’s legacy. I am very excited to be returning to London, a city that champions pioneering creativity and that continues to inspire me.’

As for Tisci, the designer will no doubt find his feet again quickly. The former Givenchy helmsman’s specific brand of ultra-seductive, arch-Latin sexiness will not stay untapped for long. Our hope is that the Italian-born creative, whose genius can be found in the razor-edged cut of his suits and the intricate fabrication of gowns that are never stuffy and always on-point, will start his own label. Because in an ever-more algorithmically driven fashion landscape, the world is crying out for a touch of Tisci own-brand sex appeal. 

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