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The British history of Burberry

Ahead of Daniel Lee’s debut for the London-based house, we unpack how the brand has contributed to Britain as we know it today.


Up there with pubs, Sunday roasts and queuing, Burberry has been a staple of British culture from day dot. Along the way, it’s evolved from a rural upstart in sleepy Basingstoke to a global powerhouse, becoming a conduit for discourse around British identity and class structures, all while remaining one of the most universal luxury brands.

Of course, the other side to this story was taking place in the bowels of working-class life, where style-savvy casuals began appropriating the check to their own ends.

As Westminster University’s Professor Andrew Groves puts it, this was “the ultimate form of transgressive dress, enabling not only the subversion of the brand, but also the dominant culture that it purported to represent.” For Andrew, the resulting contradiction became part and parcel of the brand, central to its success this side of the millennium. “In essence, their core product is Britishness, and everything else is merely a manifestation of that,” he adds. After all, what could be more British than the class system?


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