To celebrate the launch of Love Letters from Britain, Walpole columnist Aleks Cvetkovic takes a look at what this new series of films says about British luxury - and speaks to The Lakes Distillery, London Sock Co. and The Londoner Hotel to get their take on why they are involved in the project.
LOVE LETTERS FROM BRITAIN IS A NEW SERIES OF SHORT DOCUMENTARY-STYLE FILMS UNCOVERING THE UNTOLD STORIES OF UK’S MOST INNOVATIVE LUXURY BRANDS, PRODUCED FOR WALPOLE BY BBC STORYWORKS COMMERCIAL PRODUCTIONS AND INCLUDING STORIES SUPPORTED BY THE GREAT BRITAIN & NORTHERN IRELAND CAMPAIGN.
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL THE FILMS.
One of the great misconceptions about British luxury is that it values nostalgia above all else. Certainly, the luxury landscape in the UK is made up in large part by storied brands with rich histories, but to see these companies only as retrospective is a mistake. In reality, British luxury should be praised as much for its spirit of innovation as for its timelessness.
This is a message that Walpole has proudly shouted from the rooftops for years and this week sees the launch of Love Letters from Britain, a series of short films produced by BBC StoryWorks Commercial Production for Walpole, supported by the GREAT Britain and Ireland Campaign, and featuring a diverse cross-section of Walpole members. The films aim not just to celebrate the impressive breadth of luxury in the UK, but also to champion the progressive spirit of a £48 billion British industry.
“The luxury sector has huge strategic importance to the UK – its economy and its communities,” says Walpole's Director of International and Public Affairs Charlotte Keesing, who has worked closely with BBC StoryWorks Commercial Production to shape the series. “By bringing together our most innovative and inspiring businesses with the best storytellers in the world, we have a unique opportunity to showcase a fleet of British brands that are relevant, modern and able to connect with consumers on a truly personal level.”
Twenty films will be released between now and October, each dedicated to a participating brand, the first nine of which are now available to view on a dedicated hub at bbc.com, or at thewalpole.co.uk. The series will be supported by a 12-month collaborative marketing campaign by both Walpole and the BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions – to reach more than 1,500,000 luxury consumers in key international markets, from China and Japan through to the US and India. While each film has its own distinct narrative there are certain themes that unite the series; from a genuine commitment to sustainability, to the preservation of traditional skills and the reframing of craft through a forward-looking lens.
“As a comparatively new brand, we are overjoyed to be featured in Love Letters from Britain and be among such illustrious company,” says Kirsty Taylor, the marketing director of The Lakes Distillery in Cumbria, one of two distillers to feature in the series. “At its core, whiskymaking is a creative and artistic process. While we respect its heritage our ambition is to not only look at what whisky is, but what it can become. To have the opportunity to showcase how we are working to put English whisky on the map is invaluable.”
This pioneering spirit runs throughout the whole series. In fellow whisky brand The Balvenie’s film, you’ll see just what it takes to become a whisky distillery’s malt master – and to pass on a lifetime’s worth of skill from one generation to another. In Bentley’s you’ll discover how one of the world’s foremost luxury car marques plans to reach carbon-neutrality by 2030 with its unique ‘Beyond 100’ manifesto. Elsewhere, Bicester Village’s documentary foregrounds the retail destination’s commitment to support domestic design and manufacturing through its ‘British Designers Collective’, and in Dunhill’s film you’ll learn how creative director Mark Weston is designing to challenge tired preconceptions of masculinity, and to explore what it means to be a British man in 2021.
“British luxury has long been the champion of beautiful, high-quality, well-made items that stand the test of time, but also of individuality and innovation,” says Ryan Palmer, co-founder of London Sock Company, whose film focuses on the brand’s impressive sustainability journey. “It was great to be able to showcase how London Sock Company embodies and honours these values; how we are authentically evolving and always looking to the future. This series really is a love letter to the things that make British luxury unique.”
Love Letters from Britain also demonstrates the power of strength in numbers, and of the UK’s luxury sector presenting a united front to the world, something that’s vitally important in the wake of COVID-19 and Brexit. To quote Charles Oak, Director of soon-to-open The Londoner Hotel: “This is a significant moment for London as it recovers from the pandemic. Being involved means that we have an incredible platform to tell our story of the world’s first Super Boutique hotel, which is more than just a hotel but a destination […] This beautifully curated series is a powerful approach to taking a collection of luxury British brands to international audiences.”
Having been lucky enough to view some sneak peeks of these films ahead of their release, each one reinforces the uniquely aspirational role that luxury brands play both within the UK and on the global stage. Walpole’s CEO, Helen Brocklebank, believes passionately that we’re entering a “new era” for British luxury – and this series proves her point. It showcases the UK’s collective wealth of industry-leading expertise, creative energy and boundless ambition. Quite apart from being a series of love letters, these films also serve as a timely reminder that British luxury is looking to the future.
Explore the first nine instalments of Love Letters from Britain at BBC StoryWorks digital hub or by clicking here.