Stefan Cooke is transforming vintage Mulberry bags in a new collaboration

British label Stefan Cooke puts its unique stamp on 27 pre-loved Mulberry handbags. Here and in a short film, designers Stefan Cooke and Jake Burt tell us more

Mulberry Stefan Cooke handbag
Mulberry’s ‘Pre-Loved’ collaboration with Stefan Cooke, photographed in Mulberry’s Somerset factory – see the making of the bags on film, below
(Image credit: Courtesy of Mulberry)

Slashed and cut, adorned with bows, looping braids or colourful hanging tassels – British label Stefan Cooke brings a distinct spin to vintage Mulberry brands in a new collaboration with the British leather goods band that has been operating in Somerset since the early 1970s. 

Part of Mulberry Editions – a programme that invites young designers to create a collection for the brand – the project gave Cooke and partner Jake Burt (the label’s co-founder and co-designer) free rein to put their stamp on 27 'pre-loved' styles. Previous participants have included fellow British designers Priya Ahluwalia and Nicholas Daley, as well as the Irish designer Richard Malone.

Mulberry’s ‘Pre-Loved’ collaboration with Stefan Cooke

Stefan Cooke Mulberry Collab

The collection’s accompanying campaign, photographed by longtime Stefan Cooke collaborator Theo Sion

(Image credit: Photography by Theo Sion)

‘The project felt tactile, and worked for us from the very beginning,’ say Cooke and Burt. ‘The first thing we did was go straight down to the Mulberry factory and begin discussing all the possibilities of what the bags could become and what techniques we could create in the workshop. It felt organic right away.’

The 27 handbags were sourced using the Mulberry Exchange, a circularity programme in progress since 2020, whereby the brand would buy back used handbags from its customers. They are then restored at the ‘Lifetime Service Centre’ at the Rookery, one of Mulberry’s Somerset factories, and made available for purchase; each year, says the brand, over 12,000 bags are restored to go on to ‘lead multiple lives’. 

Mulberry Stefan Cooke collab

A craftsperson works on one of the styles

(Image credit: Courtesy of Mulberry)

For this project, though, Cooke and Burt favoured a bolder approach, adorning their capsule with some of their own brand’s signature motifs – such as a slashed diamond-shaped pattern which recalls that of an Argyle sweater (in their collections, the motif has appeared across jumpers, shoes, and bags). Others include a series of bows that featured prominently in their S/S 2023 outing, a braided motif, and use of the signature looping handle used on their own handbags. Further embellishments include jumbo tassels made from upcycled rugby shirts and straps made of buttons.

Each style – spanning riffs on Mulberry’s ‘Bayswater’, ‘Blossom’ and ‘Alana’ bags – is entirely bespoke, created in Somerset (where the recent Mulberry x Paul Smith collection was also made). ‘Working hand in hand with everyone at the factory has been the highlight for us,’ say Cooke and Burt. ‘The level of craft and expertise to come out of this tucked-away factory really blew us away. Everyone’s enthusiasm to solve made the project flow so naturally; we all wanted to find a solution to every problem and it was amazing to see true British luxury crafted right before us.’

Mulberry handbag campaign

Pieces feature signature Stefan Cooke motifs, as well as playful adornments, such as jumbo-sized tassels

(Image credit: Photography by Theo Sion)

Burt and Cooke say their own first memories of Mulberry were from the early 2010s, and the whimsical campaigns by British photographer Tim Walker. ’For us, Mulberry was always aspirational, I think some of the campaigns from 2011 always come to mind – it was fantasy and British luxury,’ says Cooke. ‘Jake’s family live very close to the Mulberry factory and Somerset has been a big part of our lives for a long time.’

As for working with vintage styles rather than starting the design from scratch, Cooke and Burt have embraced the process as a unique challenge. ‘Each bag has its own personality and its own life before this process began,’ they say. ‘It makes you think about designing differently, when a product is already designed, tested and worn for years you need to approach it with a certain reverence. It's about being as reductive as possible with what you are adding, it's a balance.’

Mulberry Stefan Cook campaign

Each bag was originally restored by a team at the Rookery, one of Mulberry’s Somerset factories

(Image credit: Photography by Theo Sion)

Coinciding with London Fashion Week – and Cooke and Burt’s own-label show, which takes place on 15 September 2023 – the styles will be available in Mulberry’s first-ever 'Pre-Loved Pop Up’, open to the public for nine days from 16 September on London’s Poland Street. Alongside the Stefan Cooke collaboration, there will also be a number of other vintage Mulberry styles that have been restored at the Rookery.

As for what Cooke and Burt have learnt from the collaboration – which is documented in a short film below – it is ‘to only make something if it's worth repairing’.

Mulberry x Stefan Cooke launches in the UK at the Mulberry ‘Pre-Loved Pop Up’ , the brand’s flagship store on Regent Street, and on

Fashion Features Editor

Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*, joining the team in 2022. Having previously been the digital features editor at AnOther and digital editor at 10 and 10 Men magazines, he has also contributed to titles including i-D, Dazed, 10 Magazine, Mr Porter’s The Journal and more, while also featuring in Dazed: 32 Years Confused: The Covers, published by Rizzoli. He is particularly interested in the moments when fashion intersects with other creative disciplines – notably art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and reporting from international fashion weeks. Across his career, he has interviewed the fashion industry’s leading figures, including Rick Owens, Pieter Mulier, Jonathan Anderson, Grace Wales Bonner, Christian Lacroix, Kate Moss and Manolo Blahnik.