As TikTok user cleverly said: It’s London Fashion week, and you know what that means? It means its time to fetishise the working class.
Aaaaaaand, it’s over. London Fashion Week has just closed its doors for its September edition, leaving behind a lot of sculptural pieces, bursts of colour and an array of fashion pop-ups which have been marketed to the max on social media platforms. Some with more success than others. Whilst Hermès’ flowers had every orange enthusiast queuing next to Kings College, Burberry opted for a different approach. A more controversial one at that.
For anyone taking the tube across central London, coming to find that Bond Street station had been taken over as ‘Burberry Street’ might have come as a surprise. The collaboration with TFL, despite having an insane reach (TFL counts more than 5 million journeys a day), was also profoundly inaccessible. If your regular Londoner had to double take at the station’s name, you can only imagine the hassle it cause for tourists, foreigners and the elderly population. “I heard all different things, to be honest, but nothing positive, unfortunately,” reported The New York Times. Yikes.
Burberry’s missteps continued as the brand’s latest marketing move also missed the mark. Burberry took over Norman’s, a quintessentially British café known for fry-ups and beans on toast. In an odd pairing, Burberry collaborated to redesign Norman’s uniforms and plaster its branding all over the greasy spoon eatery. Norman’s playfully riffs on traditional British cafes, while Burberry has worked hard to distance itself from the masses, making the collaboration an unusual and highly polemic one.
“It’s London Fashion week, and you know what that means? It means its time to fetishise the working class” spoke a user on TikTok. Most comments followed suit, with the occasional one pointing out that Norman’s is, already before the Burberry activation, a play on traditional working class greasy spoons, charging 12 pounds for a fry-up.
In the end, Burberry’s recent marketing missteps highlight the need for fashion brands to align campaign tactics with core brand values. The Bond Street tube rebranding and Norman’s cafe takeover generated buzz but misread their audiences. They came across as inaccessible and out-of-touch for many locals and consumers.
Fashion marketing should balance creativity with inclusivity. Campaigns that appear oblivious to real-world audiences or everyday accessibility issues can undermine brand goodwill. While aiming to stand out during fashion week and on social media, brands need to ensure their marketing resonates appropriately with all target customers.
For a heritage brand like Burberry, future collaborations and activations should feel authentic to its British roots and luxury positioning, especially since tactics tailored just for fashion insiders risk alienating broader consumers. Burberry may benefit from re-evaluating its marketing strategy to ensure alignment with its brand image and full customer base.
Overall, Burberry’s recent fumbles highlight the need for fashion brands to ground their marketing in their core values and their customers’ realities. Campaign innovation without these fundamentals risks ringing hollow. By learning from these missteps, Burberry can refine its future marketing to artfully reflect its heritage while also moving inclusively forward.