Brand Focus: Burberry


How our obsession with streetwear continues…

On campus, the proliferation of streetwear is easy to see. Long gone are the days when we walked around campus in figure-hugging garms. Now our silhouettes are as big and as bright as our futures (theoretically speaking) – we prefer puffer jackets to straights, logoed tees to cropped and trainers over shoes. The phenomenon of this can be seen even at the highest of houses. So, let’s take a closer look at why Britain’s top luxury designer has reverted back to the streetwear trend and whether their Autumn 2018 collection packs a punch:

Christopher Bailey’s nod to streetwear in his latest collection for Burberry is a marked departure from the provincial English-rose aesthetic. With us cool young things now reaching for trackies over tailoring, Bailey’s revised focus reflects our continuing love affair with streetwear.

In the nineties, when a large portion of us (now twenty-somethings) were running around our gardens and embarking on our first forays into education, something big was happening in fashion. Streetwear was having a moment – with the likes of Fila, Adidas and Tommy Hilfiger being worn by everyone from Oasis to Destiny’s Child. These brands may be familiar to us now, but had you sported a Champion sweater or an Ellesse shirt in the noughties, you would have been rapidly escorted away from the party. Noughties firmly over, and the fashion world had made another U-turn. As quickly as streetwear had been the ‘thing’ to wear, it became the thing to avoid and is now as ‘in’ as ever.

This was largely because it was associated with the ‘chav’ aesthetic a decade ago; and this is where Burberry comes in. While the repudiation of the ‘chav’ look was in full swing, Christopher Bailey was being appointed Burberry’s new creative director. He was tasked with rejuvenating the Burberry brand, and his tenacity as a young designer rewarded the brand with a 27.1% increase in revenue in comparison to previous years. His gamble to reintroduce the check – that symbol hijacked by chavs – by reworking the print into an upper-class and more polished aesthetic, was extremely successful.

In recent seasons, however, the Burberry customer has grown tired of Bailey’s collections. Perhaps this has something to do with his brief spell as CEO of the brand (as well as creative director), which could have prevented him producing collections that were both creative and financially viable. Of course something must also be said for the meteoric rise in sales of rivals Gucci, Balenciaga and Saint Laurent. Whatever the reason, Bailey’s head was on the chopping block and he needed to pull something out of the bag with his Autumn collection.

I am pleased to say that Bailey has delivered a collection that promises a more exciting direction for Burberry. The opulence of past seasons has met its street-savvy and youthful match, resulting in a juxtaposition of tartan snap-backs and chandelier earrings, pussy-bow blouses cocooned inside slouchy trench coats, and pastel slip dresses wrapped in chunky knits. It was refreshing to see Bailey working with larger proportions too, letting the arms of fair-isle knit jumpers dangle over the models’ hands and scarves to trail close to the floor. This insouciant vibe flooded throughout Old Sessions House as models swaggered down stair-cases to the sounds of the Pet Shop Boys.

Any critics who have previously suggested that Bailey was past his prime will have been silenced with his Autumn display. His ability to interweave key cornerstones of Burberry’s iconography with a more modern and urbanised perspective prove that this is a man on the rise once again, and this also means, in no uncertain terms, that streetwear is here to stay.

Gemma Power

Feature Image courtesy of Ninian Reid via Flickr, license here.
Article Image courtesy of Sole 2 Amor via Flickr, license here.

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