Burberry: Brand Heritage and Evolution

A styled Burberry outfit laying on the bed. Ensemble includes a suit, scarf, shoes and tie, all burberry along with a watch which is not Burberry.

How the British-rooted brand became one of the world’s most identifiable luxury houses. 

Introduction

Brand names are not usually chosen at random. The names of brands are selected strategically in order to represent their core identities and values across their entire DNA. In addition to making a lasting impression on consumers, branding allows your customers and clients to know what to expect from your company. You can use it to distinguish yourself from the competition and to clarify what it is you offer that makes you superior.

With British origins, Burberry in particular presents a deep-rooted style in the most iconic manner, displaying excellence in all categories. As a result, Burberry’s history and DNA serve as a testament to the brand’s values and opinions. The Burberry Company has followed an extremely detailed and successful strategy since its inception in 1856. Comfort and luxury are the primary values. There is a long history of prestige associated with Burberry within the fashion industry, which makes it an intriguing brand.

Burberry: Brand Heritage

As a 21-year-old, Thomas Burberry launched the Burberry brand in Haymarket, Basingstoke, England, in 1891. In its early years, Burberry operated as a family-oriented company, but it was reincorporated in 1955. Originally, thick clothing was designed to protect British citizens from harsh weather conditions. In 1911, top influencers such as Roald Amundsen began to patronize the brand as personal designers. Ernest Shackleton and George Mallory, two other influential figures, also wore the brand’s products in 1914 and 1924, respectively.

It is important to note that despite the availability of several retailers or redistributing companies, the London headquarters strictly monitored production. A large number of profits were earned through the delivery of the clothing worldwide. However, the gains were insignificant because it ran as the parent company’s account with a licensing agreement. During this time, Lord (Leonard) Wolfson served as chairman, Stanley Peacock as managing director, and Lord Litchfield as photographer. In 1997, Victor Barnett became chairman and led the organization until 2001.

One of the most notable characteristics of the Burberry brand is its consistency over time, as well as its innovation, craftsmanship, and heritage. Christopher Bailey is the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Creative Officer of the Burberry brand studio, which is located in London. There was a clear understanding of the importance of creativity and media on the part of the brand owner. As a result, he produced a movie in 2016 entitled “The Tale of Thomas Burberry“. The brand is known for always holding its heritage in high esteem, regardless of what appears to be adversity.

Challenges of Burberry

In the mid-1990s, the sales and profit price of Burberry drastically declined. The controversy began when Daniella Westbrook wore a check design overall, which did not appeal to many viewers. As a result, many customers withdrew from the brand because they no longer desired to associate themselves with it. Contrstingly, football fans loved the check design and instead wore it as a uniform.

The football fans trend worsened the situation, as Burberry’s reputation suffered due to the appearance of a less luxurious and classy crowd. There were a number of UK department stores such as Selfridges and Harvey Nicholas that ceased to stock the materials, which negatively affected the overall sales of the brand. The CEO of Burberry, Angela Ahrendts, left the company in 2014 to join Apple. The problems finally began to recede upon the appointment of Christopher Bailey as creative director. It became clear that fashion and technology could collaborate to form a single entity.

How They Scaled Through

After so many disappointments, Burberry’s success is attributed to its adaptability to technology. An effective social media campaign employing top celebrities as ambassadors or for promotion was employed to increase sales again. Among these celebrities were Kate Moss, James Corden, Eddie Redmayne, Cara Delevingne, and Naomi Campbell. Thanks to this hyper-exposure, the brand finally began to participate in London Fashion Week. This runway show blended the music and e-commerce industries. 

A brand created avenues for customers to visualize clothing items in 2016 as opposed to just running a catwalk. In order to reduce production numbers, the number of runway productions was reduced from four to two per week. As a result, elites could walk into the exhibition and select an outfit that best suited their personal preferences.

As of September 2017, the history of the Burberry brand has become more interesting. Using a combination of modern and classical styles, Bailey has created a minimalist design aesthetic in the brand’s SS18 collection at London’s Old Sessions House.

The First Five Burberry Materials

Iconic Burberry 

Among Burberry’s unique qualities is the pioneering nature of several trademarks within the industry. There was a rapid increase in the brand’s visibility worldwide, including countries in which weather conditions were extremely variable. In order to meet a wide range of requirements, the company recognized the need to produce several designs of clothing using a multitude of textiles. Listed below are the most popular materials that were created in the early years of production and have gained widespread popularity.

Gabardine Textile

It was Thomas Burberry who invented gabardine in 1879, and unlike other fabric launches, gabardine was an innovative material. It was the first waterproof material ever developed in Britain. During the 1800s, other fashion houses began to introduce waterproof materials, but these products were not as appealing as the prototypes. At the time, waterproof materials were considered unfashionable, which explains the rapid acceptance of gabardine, which proved to be the perfect material for comfort, fashion, and waterproofing.

The Travel Trench

The iconic travel trench formed the basis for the famous trench coats we have today. Military men first wore Tielocken coats during World War 1, and the name was changed from Tielocken coats to travel trench as a result of their popularity.

Initially, the design was intended to serve as a pack for military equipment, such as whistles, grenades, and gloves. It provided them with the opportunity to prepare for any attack or harm. The popularity of this material grew as a result of the fact that it was worn for protective purposes by every user.

The Burberry Check

During the 1920s, the production company decided to step up its gabardine game by introducing a checkered design. The structure was registered as a trademark in 1921, and it has become an integral part of the brand identity since then. In 1967, the brand moved from making only clothes to also making bags, scarves, and umbrellas with this particular design.

Throughout British history, this design has captivated the attention of the royal family and is accepted in the heritage house. In spite of this, the pattern has a troubling backstory that involves the British class system, the aesthetic hijacking of the working class, and drug-realted activities. 

The Evolution of the Burberry Logo

Equestrian Knight Logo

Every new design produced by the Burberry brand has an intent or meaning behind it, just as every other design does. Among the key attributes of the equestrian design were protection, integrity, and majesty. It was registered in 1909 and has been an integral part of people’s clothing ever since. While the logo remains the same, the brand’s design format has changed slightly in 2018. 

The term “equestrian knight” comes from the Latin word “prorsum,” which means to keep moving forward. The CEO trademarked the design due to the meaning behind the name.

New Burberry Logo

​​As of 2018, Peter Saville and Riccardo Tisci replaced the equestrian logo with the new Burberry logo. As an interlocking of the two initials, TB, Thomas Burberry was the inspiration behind the new design. Despite its function, the monogram design retains its elegance and is considered one of Burberry’s best designs, according to the brand’s tribe. Furthermore, the design was developed in accordance with the brand’s modern minimalistic aesthetic. 

Burberry: Brand Heritage and Evolut...
Burberry: Brand Heritage and Evolution – 440 Industries
The complete history and evolution of the Burberry logo.
The complete history and evolution of the Burberry logo.

Burberry’s history would be incomplete without mentioning its achievements and how far it has come in the fashion industry. Among the notable changes of the brand is the reduction in the number of check designs, but this decision has resulted in ten-fold more profits.

Generally, Burberry has experienced an increase in competition, but its royalty-inspired history has helped it attract and maintain a loyal tribe.

In 2015, Burberry has stores in 59 countries, making it the 73rd most popular global brand, according to Inter-brand and in 2022, Burberry has grown to 218 stores world wide according to Statistica. 

In 2016 and 2017, the brand suffered from a backlash caused by a sudden shift in political seats, terrorist attacks, and a decrease in global trade. After Riccardo Tisci accepted the position as Chief Creative Officer, a new narrative has emerged. Tisci began collaborating with social media influencers or non-competitive brands and began introducing new products every year. Based on its collaborations, the brand has been growing steadily until now. Burberry is currently listed on the London Stock Exchange under the FTSE 100 index.

Conclusion

Unlike the restricted styles that popped up in Burberry’s history, the brand today produces cosmetics, leather goods, fragrances, accessories, and eyewear. Despite the brand’s history being heavily centered on depictions of royalty, its consumer base has expanded to include anyone who fits the brand’s modern and minimal business-classy aesthetic. It is no longer limited to outdoor attire, but also plays a significant role in the trends of the fashion industry. Burberry’s reach is now worldwide, as you can place an order from anywhere in the world.

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