As speculation swirls around a new phase in Burberry’s evolution as a luxury brand with Jonathan Akeroyd joining as CEO and talk of a possible new creative director, I started to think about past iterations of the brand and how it has evolved.
Under Ricardo Tisci, since 2018, the brand has relentlessly pursued a luxury positioning driven by streetwear, celebrity dressing and an emphasis on leather goods. It introduced a new logo and continues to invest in rolling out its new store concept. It has paid off – in May the group posted its highest profitability in 8 years.
But in pushing this approach, Burberry has moved away from its association with weather, and Britishness in general and dialed down the presence of its trench coat. These themes were central to Christopher Bailey’s vision for the brand during his time as Creative Director when he successfully saved Burberry’s brand from years of over exposure and turned it into the darling of the British fashion industry.
Undoubtedly, Burberry needs to continue to cement its position as a true luxury brand. But longevity in this space requires more depth of meaning than fashion, streetwear and celebrity can provide.
At the pinnacle of luxury, brands like Louis Vuitton (travel) and Hermès(equestrianism) have spent decades building on their foundational stories to give their brands a depth of meaning that adds weight to their luxury identities.
Here are 4 things Burberry could gain by rediscovering its Britishness, iconic trench and connection to weather.
1. Permanence – a sense of being anchored to a heritage with meaning beyond just a recognizable logo.
2. Utility – and therefore a connection to quality and craftsmanship that imbues all product with a tangible value.
3. Emotion – the role of weather has the potential to inject drama and mystery into the brand narrative. It’s also a universal theme – one as resonant in Shanghai as Chicago.
4. Context – embracing a new version of Britishness would give an ownable sense of place to a brand that currently feels unanchored from the textures of heritage.
Let’s see where they go…