Back in the day (the day in the early noughties) the ‘cult of the chav’ was really thriving; the way the mosher-goth was pretty cool when I was thirteen. Anyone could describe a typical chav and there was one thing that was undeniably synonymous with chavism, one distinguishing feature that ran through the fashion, attitude and Saturday football pursuits of this elite fashion group- Burberry. No self respecting chav would be seen without a Burberry cap, or some way of integrating that ever-recognisable tartan into their outfit- I should know, I had a scarf and hung out with Cardiff City supporters.
Burberry was not just a passing whim, it became the uniform of the chav. Google ‘Burberry Chav’ if you don’t believe me. The Wikipedia entry about the origins of the word and culture is interlaced with references to Emma Watson’s favourite brand:
“Burberry is a clothing company whose products became associated with the “chav” stereotype. Burberry’s appeal to “chav” fashion sense is a sociological example of prole drift, where an up-market product begins to be consumed en masse by a lower socio-economic group. Burberry has argued that the brand’s popular association with “chav” fashion sense is linked to counterfeit versions of the clothing. “They’re yesterday’s news”, stated Stacey Cartwright, the CEO of Burberry. “It was mostly counterfeit, and Britain accounts for less than 10% of our sales anyway.””
In the background of an ever fashion-conscious world, Burberry is a brand which has managed to achieve a silent miracle, a silent but deadly re-brand and a move away from the negative connotations it felt it had attracted. Burberry caps have practically fallen off the production line, and we very rarely see a glimpse of tartan- save for the inner lining of a director’s coat. Considering that the affinity between Burberry and football hooliganism, chav culture and all things loved by Jeremy Kyle started way back in the 1970’s, escaping the damage caused by unprecedented levels of counterfeiting has been no mean feat. Burberry now stands for all things Luxe, is a leader in innovation- both in clothing and in marketing and has Christopher Bailey straddling its helm, picking up child prodigies and the best British faces along the way.
The fashion industry is truly taking (Burberry) hats off to a true British brand, which, in the spirit of its roots is moving ‘Prorsum’.