What do British people think of Burberry?

What do British people think of Burberry?

Where did Burberry start?

Thomas Burberry started the Burberry label in 1856 in Basingstoke, south-central England. The company originally focused on the production of durable outdoor garments, with gabardine – a waterproof weave – an early innovation. The clothes were popularized by British explorer types in the early 20th Century. Burberry became a household name with the development of its all-weather trench coat for army officers that were used in the muddied trenches of World War I.


Who is Burberry’s target market and how have they changed overtime?

Expansion into the luxury and premium sector saw Burberry rise through the 70s and 80s, with lucrative licensing agreements that made them a truly international brand. Oversaturation stretched their popularity a little too far and by the mid-90s the name had become passed in the UK.


Enter Christopher Bailey in 2001: an end to many of those licences and a decrease in the amount of check being used. Ecommerce also became a Burberry strength during Bailey’s time.


Today Ricardo Tisci is creative director. It’s been an interesting four years in which Tisci has been brave enough to experiment [sometimes quite wildly] and is currently in the middle of a sharp sport phase that plays on the brand’s Gabardine and check history.





Burberry’s target demographic is over 50% Asian. Current lockdown measures in China have hit the market hard. New CEO Jonathan Akeroyd has slumping sales to deal with, as well as the tricky issue of e-Commerce in a post Covid world.


The problem is not just the pandemic. Burberry [like the similarly struggling Gucci right now] is a heritage brand in an era when Millennials and Gen Zs [and soon to be Gen Alphas] care less about the past and its old-world associations. Then again, historical recognition is important for many Asian customers.


Burberry has failed to spear its market position on several occasions: The Burberry check has always partly defined the company, while pushing it too hard has led to a devaluing of its appeal and – of course – a increase in low quality fakes.


To his credit, Ricardo Tisci has experimented his way out of the conundrum and – avoiding a disregard of the brand’s USPs – has created sharp variations on black, brown and beige for Spring 2022 and constructivist visions with beige and checks for Fall. It’s always a hard one to call though, how much of traditional Burberry to keep, and how much to move on?         





Do British people love Burberry?

Statistics show that the Asia Pacific region accounts for over 50% of Burberry’s sales, in line with Asia being the biggest market for luxury designer goods. Of course, it’s brand heritage and recognition that many Asian customers seek in a British company. Gabardine and the Haymarket check provide it.


The UK’s loyalty to logos is generally less luxury focused. Sportswear and athleisure sell strongly, and Burberry is positioned in the latter with a healthy encroachment on Balenciaga’s sneaker sales boom.


The British are proud of Burberry, even if most could never afford it. Burberry fulfils a role in propping up the now depleted state of British luxury that was once dominated by the likes of Rolls Royce [now the property of BMW], Qatar-owned Harrods, and lesser but important players like Church Shoes [actually owned by Prada but a long-time bastion of the Northampton shoe industry] or Kent Brushes. Brands like Barbour provide a similar country/class look at a premium price.


In general, Brits are international in their fashion mindset, just as most fashion brands have become worldwide concerns, mostly through their integration into conglomerate holding companies. For the record, Burberry maintains its independence, but production and the market is increasingly overseas as Burberry bags seeks to compete home and abroad.







Are Burberry bags more popular than Burberry clothes?

While the trench coat and check clothes are what has made Burberry’s name, it’s Burberry bags that are the company’s new focus as it seeks to crack the luxury sector. Bags are a wise move in raising brand exposure –expensive investment and status items that premium customers don’t mind paying extra for.


Women’s Bags

From a design perspective, bags have been successful, with the predominantly square silhouettes of the Burberry Tote and Horseferry canvas bag a natural frame for a check or plain façade.


Generally, the look is formal and downplayed, although items like the TB Bag feature a prominent logo and the Burberry Banner bag is softer and more playful. All is generally in keeping with the UK’s history of classy and conservative bag and luggage manufacturing. As of 2021, accessories accounted for 36% of its sales, more than any other category.


Interesting times ahead for Burberry as it wrestles with its history and the future both at home and increasingly overseas. The pandemic and trade complications in China have created difficulties at a time when Burberry seeks to shift its emphasis to the lucrative luxury sector. But Burberry’s problems are shared by many brands right now, especially as E-commerce sales are recalibrating after two plus years of online shopping.


The British brand has been threatened before and has – so far – managed to come back stronger. As things stand, they have a talented and experimental creative director and a run of bags thar are a credible and classy alternative to any European offerings. And they’re still the best clothing brand in the UK.   

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