Christopher Bailey, the man who transformed Burberry from the makers of fine coats into one of the most powerful fashion brands in the world, is stepping down after 17 years at the company.
Burberry announced that Bailey’s tenure as president and chief creative officer would be over when he leaves at the end of 2018.
In a statement the company said Bailey had taken them from a “small licensed outerwear business to become one of the world’s largest and most admired global luxury brands.”
Bailey, 46, said his decision to leave “was not an easy one” but added he was “excited to pursue new creative projects.”
Back in July, Bailey handed over the title of CEO—which he held for four years—to Marco Gobbetti, and the two have been working together on a new growth strategy for the brand.
“It has been the great privilege of my working life to be at Burberry, working alongside and learning from such an extraordinary group of people,” said Bailey.
“I do truly believe, however, that Burberry’s best days are still ahead of her and that the company will go from strength to strength with the strategy we have developed and the exceptional talent we have in place led by Marco,” he continued. “I am excited to pursue new creative projects but remain fully committed to the future success of this magnificent brand and to ensuring a smooth transition.”
In addition to expanding the brand’s appeal and output, Bailey—who was born in in Yorkshire to a carpenter and a window dresser for Marks and Spencer—has been widely credited with keeping Burberry on the front foot during the digital revolution that has taken swept through fashion during his time at the top. The brand were the first to adopt the See Now Buy Now model, making collections available as soon as shows ended and transforming the industry in the process.
A successor to Bailey has not yet been named, but the rumored candidate is British designer Phoebe Philo, currently at Celine.