Chavs reportedly devastated at the label’s recent makeover…
After five months of eagerly awaiting the results of Riccardo Tisci’s takeover at Burberry, the newly appointed chief creative officer‘s logo makeover did not disappoint. In fact, it was a long time coming—and despite skepticism, the Italian designer might be just the kick that the Burbs’ needed. With substantial experience of bringing new life to storied, somewhat stoic labels, and despite the classic, dependable touch Christopher Bailey’s seven-year tenure brought to Burberry, the brand needed a final push into the 21st century and away from its embarrassing past. What shameful past, you ask?
The early 2000s ruined a lot of good things—VCRs, the Backstreet Boys, denim. And while the Backstreet Boys have allegedly returned to the world of pop music (I’ve still yet to hear a hit from them since 2000’s “The Call”), one thing that could not come out of the turmoil of the naughties was Burberry’s infamous tartan. Ruined by the Chavs, for a long time, the Burberry check was synonymous with a lack of class, and for lack of a better word, trashy stereotypes. The infamous check became a go-to for those late to adopt the Simple Life era logomania, replete with Von Dutch trucker hats and LV “speedys” galore.
The Chav phase was more of a stereotype than a subculture. The name came from an acronym for “Council House Affiliated Vermin,” and might be as difficult for Americans to understand as a cheeky Nandos. The stereotype was made up of unruly youth culture who loved imitation designer clothes, and though the subculture stemmed from a group with low socioeconomic status, it grew into a “hypeboy” kind of situation with signature tracksuits and pool slides to match.
The Chavs of the early 2000s flocked towards Burberry check like moths to a flame. With its high price point and classic British routes, the brand seemed the epitome of wealth. So what better way to portray wealth than by incorporating that check into your look? The versatility of Burberry’s signature pattern made it easy to replicate, and even easier to find. Chavs had their way with it, piling plaid over plaid over plaid, as though the more they wore, the more believable it would be that it was real Burberry. Brits might remember when the trend hit its peak: the regrettable moment that Eastenders star Danniella Westbrook was spotted in head-to-toe Burberry check—covering her skirt, handbag, daughter’s skirt, and the child’s stroller.
The “Chav-effect” as we’ll call it, wasn’t so great for brand image. So when Christopher Bailey came on board in 2001, he was tasked with the responsibility of distancing the luxury label from its low-brow fandom. His solution was to decrease the use of the signature Burberry check, bringing it down to just 5% of the collection. Under Bailey, Burberry’s aesthetic matured into more elevated design codes (and price tags), shaking off the tracksuit-clad, bum-bag-donning crowd.
Burberry and the Chavs have since parted ways, but this history hasn’t been forgotten. Most Brits would throw the word “Burberry” into their description when answering, “What is a Chav?” The check print has long been synonymous with Burberry; the brand can reduce its use as much as they want, but the Chavs still left their mark. While minimal, the check pattern has been consistent in Burberry designs throughout the years—Bailey’s last collection for the label was based on the pattern—and every time we see it, doesn’t your mind go to the Chav-effect?
And that’s where Riccardo Tisci’s role is crucial to Burberry’s future. Burberry needed to rebrand, and with his knack for breathing new life into a label, it’s only fitting that Tisci’s first move was to save the logo and monogram.
Tisci brought in Peter Saville, who has worked magic on the Calvin Klein logo and is, in Tisci’s words, “one of our generation’s greatest design geniuses.” In an Instagram post, Burberry shared that Tisci had originally asked Saville to design the logo in four weeks, and Saville responded that the project would take four months. And in those four months, Saville designed a logo that was completely unlike the brand’s previous iteration, proving that the future is sans serif.
The new monogram depicts the letters “TB,” for OG brand-founder Thomas Burberry, in an interlocking pattern that is a new take on the classic check. It features a solid black outline, making for a highly modern look, as different as possible from the brand’s old ways.
Saville aptly explained, “Burberry needed an identity that is fluid and able to cross over into all the categories that are required of a big luxury clothing and accessories brand–something to transcend the company provenance without denying it.”
However, with this new redesign, critics have noted that it is now easier to copy the logo, which leads to the concern of counterfeits. And counterfeits would make room for another Chav-like subculture to adapt the new Burberry signature into their style once again. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯