Antler in brand relaunch, reimagines label for new era of luxury travel
Antler, the upscale British luggage brand, is relaunching itself following a turbulent few years and a bounce-back that sees it aiming to “re-establish itself as ‘THE British Travel Brand’.”
The relaunch has been in the making for a year with the company working closely with global creative studio Frosty that includes a number of ex-Burberry creatives.
The “360 degree rebrand” comes with a new campaign launching Monday and is described as “a showcase of its new-found direction as a 100-year-old start-up, following the overhaul”.
The brand, which is actually 110 years-old, is owned by Australia-based Strandbags Holdings Pty ltd. The business acquired it after its 2020 administration filing. That filing had come just three years after it was acquired by private equity firm Endless from LDC, and just months after Michael Lewis’s Strandbags had bought it only to be derailed by the pandemic, its associated lockdowns and the curtailment of travel globally.
Lewis clearly believed in the brand’s post-pandemic potential, re-acquiring it out of administration and bringing in a new management team last year with a plan to relaunch the business.
Under MD Kirsty Glenne (formerly of Alexander McQueen and my-wardrobe.com), the heritage company said it’s “doubling down on its roots and leaning back into [the] historical tagline For Those Who Travel Often — rediscovered from 1920s archives and now an important pillar of the brand’s community strategy”.
Glenne explained: “We have always served ‘those who travel often’. Reimagining it for today’s consumer will see this communicated through content creation, collaborations and especially through the experiences of our customers themselves.
“It is also a nod to our commitment to product quality. To be able to serve our customers, we must be able to make incredibly durable and long-lasting products.”
It’s all happening at a key moment for the travel industry. The company said it was “capitalising on the opportunity of ‘revenge travel’ in 2022” after consumers were forced to stay local for several years, and that last year was a record one, although still small by the standards on some travel-focused brands. Revenues were around £30 million in the 12 months to February 2023. It said the performance was “no doubt bolstered by a new focus on rebuilding its digital community across both its customer database and social followers, which combined is now approaching 500,000”.
That came after it completely stripped back its distribution network following administration, shutting its stores and leaving the brand with a D2C-only business in the UK and Australia. The dotcom business then extended to Europe last year, and in recent months soft-launched in the US. It added that its “2022/23 growth beat all business goals and internal expectations”.
Glenne said the brand’s “legacy that gives us an authority and trust that customers can confidently invest in” was key and that its lack of a presence in the $5.1 billion US travel market “was one of the most exciting challenges attracting me to the business”.
Antler now aims to reach more customers globally online and via “the right wholesale doors” and recently launched with Selfridges. It’s also available in John Lewis, Next, David Jones, Myer and Strand with more wholesale accounts opening “in the near future”.
NEW LOOK, NEW MOOD
The relaunch also includes the company refining the brand wordmark and logo, as well as offering an upgraded warranty from 10 years to a lifetime. It was “inspired by British design, looking specifically back to 20th Century British creatives including Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.
“The typography influence comes from the same period in which the brand started to develop and grow,” said Frosty Partner Greg Stogdon (formerly senior VP of creative at Burberry).
Designers Alistair Gibbs and Gareth Hague also worked on both the assets, with the logo now “a less masculine stag and more artful, universal, welcoming and functional”.
“We are declaring a new moment as a brand, re-establishing our British DNA and rich legacy in travel,” Glenne added.
A “big investment” in new products has also been made, which will start to land for the AW23 season.
Coinciding with the revamp, the brand is partnering with private members club operator Soho House Group as its official travel partner, described as “a collaboration between two like-minded British brands”.
“If there is ever a reason to travel, it's to one of these incredible houses, events or restaurants that fall under the umbrella of this luxury brand,” Glenne said.
There will be bespoke co-branded experiences and events, a travel loyalty programme, curated travel guides and ongoing content creation around travel.
As for the campaign, Antler “saw purpose in a strong new expression of the brand with both images and film embracing the brand’s rich heritage while reinforcing its connection to inspirational travel”.
Frosty Partner JD Ostrow said: “For us, this was more than a campaign— it was an opportunity and privilege to reimagine a British design icon. We began with an idea that all the best journeys start at home — from London to the Scottish Highlands — and felt the natural documenting of an authentic travel journey was the best way to reinforce the values of the brand and its global community.”
It’s all intended to help to reconnect to existing customers and reach new ones via a “fusion of newness with legacy” and a focus on trust and reliability.
Glenne concluded: “We see Antler as much more than just a product, we are that faithful, reliable guardian of customers’ most private possessions. We aim to enable customers to have the greatest of adventures and experiences wherever in the world and for whatever the occasion, through having us as their travel companion, allowing for travel memories that will last a lifetime.”
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