Luxury Website Design: Mulberry’s Subtle Styling
In our Luxury Website Design series, we review the online presence of internationally renowned, luxury brands. We look at what their websites get right, what they might be lacking and how they achieve premium branding throughout. By tracking the latest online trends, we hope to provide you with luxury web design inspiration for your business.
Our very first article in the series analysed what Gucci’s site has to offer. Since then, we have branched into high-end sportswear with Nike and internationally renowned department store, Harrods. This week, we delve into luxury fashion accessories with Mulberry.
KIJO is a web design agency that specialises in custom-built sites for high-end brands. With offices across the UK, we work with brands in London and beyond to create truly unique online platforms. Take a look at our work and if you like what you see, drop us a message.
English Heritage and Lasting Accessories at Mulberry
Mulberry is a British lifestyle brand that prides itself on quality products built to last. A home-grown brand, Mulberry was first imagined by Roger Saul as he sat at his kitchen table 1971. Rooted in English culture and heritage, the company name and logo were inspired by the mulberry trees he would pass on his way to school.
What began as a collection of leather belts has since developed into multiple handbag lines, jewellery and clothing collections. A grounding in all things natural is still prevalent. From the messaging and design of the website, it’s clear that Mulberry is building on their traditional, rural English foundation to create a long-lasting, sustainable legacy.
Anything But Fast-Fashion: Special Features Rating 2.5/5
Ethical Production and Sustainable Sourcing
In contrast to other brands we have looked at, Mulberry’s special features don’t include a suite of apps or new augmented reality technology to suggest exclusive luxury. Instead, Mulberry provides an open and detailed view into every element of their production process.
The ‘Mulberry Green’ section of the website is wholly dedicated to explaining the company’s sustainable sourcing and eco-friendly manufacturing. The pages interlink to take you through the production process. Every page includes close-up images of machines and craftspeople in action. The ‘Cupcycled Packaging’ page is dominated by an artistic video showing how their signature Mulberry Green packaging paper is made.
This section underscores just how far Mulberry is from fast fashion, with complete transparency, the pages assure customers of the quality and value of every piece. Providing information on this area is valuable as modern consumers are increasingly driven by ethics. However, the text-heavy pages create a very one-dimensional experience for the user. A bolder design intertwined with the customer purchasing journey would deliver a greater impact. Including links to products, further animations and interactivity would create a more dynamic experience.
It’s not cheap or easy for a business to be sustainable in this way. Mulberry has made a solid start demonstrating this to the customer, but the delivery and design lacks finesse. When exploring luxury web design for inspiration, think about how your products are created. Is ethical trading and sustainability an important part of your company ethos? If so, how can you design your website to make this clear to consumers and bring them one step closer to the online checkout?
Dynamic Pages with Photo Animation
Although not a groundbreaking detail, Mulberry do make good use of photo animation across their site. Every product photo flicks quickly to fashion photography, with models displaying the product in situ when the user rolls over them. Not only is this useful for quickly understanding the size of the accessory, but the frequent use of editorial photography creates a sense of luxury.
Similarly, Mulberry’s Collection pages also include many moving image effects. This section of the site showcases their runway Collections from the past 5 years. Displaying their works from 2016 to now cements their brand as a leading luxury accessories designer. Across every page, high-quality photography and striking moving images are set within various grid layouts. The photographs move and zoom subtly to create a dynamic experience for the user.
Interspersed among the images are quotes from Creative Directors and text explaining the inspiration behind the designs. Again, by providing detail Mulberry exhibit quality, craftsmanship and couture design. There are links throughout to product lines and specific items. Within the earlier Collections, some of these products are now unavailable and links have expired. The pages do need updating to reflect this. But beyond this oversight, it’s a strong feature that showcases Mulberry’s position at the forefront of luxury fashion accessory design, with quality design details to match.
Simple Customer Journey Lacks Advanced Navigation: User Experience Rating 3/5
Mulberry’s homepage is a brilliant example of less is more. As Mulberry’s predominant products are handbags, it makes sense for their homepage to be more streamlined than larger fashion houses. It’s a reminder to shape your site to what you sell, rather than follow the crowd.
There isn’t one large navigation panel. Instead, when you hover over ‘Women’ a specific menu appears beneath. Further, more specific options are shown off each menu item. It’s a logical and simple breakdown of their products. A horizontal navigation bar also appears on each page. When searching for women’s bags, you can navigate to any bag style from any page. Providing dual navigation helps streamline the customer journey, so users don’t have to trawl through a huge navigation bar every time.
On the product pages, there is a ‘Sort By’ drop-down menu. You can filter products based on price or colour, but you can’t apply multiple filters. There’s no option to filter by product or material type. The lack of advanced navigation options makes it tricky to find something specific quickly. This is uncommon for a site of this stature and a big limitation for the user.
Great Details But Unremarkable Overall: Visual Design Rating 3/5
The homepage greets the user with a full-page moving image followed by further carefully curated photography. A mix of overlay effects on every image keeps it visually stimulating and the images complement each other.
There is an information bar at the very top of the page, but it’s easily overlooked and disappears when you scroll. This is an oversight, as the information about store reopenings and safety procedures is important. How to incorporate unexciting yet essential information on a site requires smart design. You want it to be eye-catching enough that users know exactly where to find the information they need, without compromising much of the overall visual aesthetic.
The product pages themselves aren’t striking but do include some great details. You can easily change the configuration from 3 products per row to 6. When you hover over an image you see an alternative view or a model wearing the piece. Lastly, the site speed is perfectly fine, but if an image is yet to load, the Mulberry logo acts as a placeholder. These are nice touches, but the overall design is fairly unremarkable.
At the top of the product pages, there are a few lines of copy, but the text is incredibly small. It is larger on the individual product pages, where a text box with 3 tabs, ‘Description’, ‘Details’, and ‘Responsibility’, provides additional information on each product. However, the text box is small and the information cramped. For a page with such a large amount of white space, Mulberry could make better use of it.
No Outstanding Features But Perfectly Optimised: Mobile Optimisation Rating 3.5/5
The mobile view of the site is very similar to the desktop view. The web designers have perfectly optimised it for the smaller screen. Resized images, adjusted page configurations and small navigation panels work perfectly on a mobile screen. While they don’t have an app or any exclusive mobile features, beyond this we cannot fault their mobile optimisation.
Using the Website to Streamline In-Store Operations: Retail Integration Rating 4/5
On every product page, there is a ‘Hint Hint’ button you can use to send hints to family or friends in the run-up to Christmas. This is a unique, tongue in cheek feature that we haven’t seen before.
The website serves a very practical purpose of streamlining in-store services. You can easily book repairs or personal shopping appointments, simply fill out and submit the required forms on the dedicated pages. The repairs process is impressive, and the website provides an easy to follow step by step process. Once you have figured out what the problem is using the visual guides, you can easily fill out a repair form online to get the process started.
More to Come From Mulberry
Mulberry’s site provides luxury web design inspiration for smaller brands that produce fewer products or have a keen focus on ethical production. The subtle modern web design is understated and classic, crucial for Mulberry to appeal to their broad, multi-generational demographic. The emphasis is on longevity, not fast fashion. This makes sense for a producer of durable, leather accessories, that with the right care could last a lifetime.
They have made great strides in recent years to develop a long-standing brand identity and legacy. While their website isn’t a showstopper yet, it definitely embodies quality over quantity and the KIJO team are excited to see how it develops in the future.
Posted on by Kirk Thompson