<< back to News

English Heritage Labels




{mosimage}  â€œYeah but, no but, yeah but, no but…” No, not the utterings of Ms Pollard who only not so long ago would have been an unwanted poster – ahem – girl, for this brand before ridding themselves of such chav connotations; but perhaps Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry trying to squirm her way out answering whether their plans to close their Wales plant will actually go ahead.



 Since the mid-September announcement their London store has seen angry protests, not to mention demonstrations at the Treorchy factory and local government assembly. Apparently even Valley boy himself, actor Ioan Gruffudd, wants in on the action. Presently starring in their campaign alongside English rose, Rachel Weisz, Gruffudd has been emailing Ms Ahrendts pleading to keep the factory open, saving 311 staff job losses by moving production overseas.



{mosimage} Which brings me to ask, why in a time when Burberry is flourishing, are they being so damn unpatriotic? What I find wholly disheartening and downright insensitive is the almost synchronised timing of potential factory closure with their increased profits and share prices announcements (shares up 8%, total sales, £392 million from £355 million). So, the factory is no longer “commercially viable”? Hmmm… Corporate greed, anyone? Decidedly disloyal indeed for a brand built on the pillars of English heritage and culture.



 In truth, right now, Burberry have never had it so good. Although Rose Marie Bravo revived the failing brands fortunes back in 1997 with her chequered-overkill (I mean, it was a case of, what COULDN’T you buy sans that ubiquitous pattern?) it has taken the uber-god Christopher Bailey to reinstate sympathy, tradition but crucially, subtlety to their aesthetic.



{mosimage} Yet it’s not only Burberry having its moment; what with The Man Wot Can Do No Wrong, Giles Deacon, about to restore some much needed oomph into fellow Anglo antique, DAKS. Hopefully putting them back in the black (pre-tax losses of 3.2 mil – erk!). Now who doesn’t covet his current black fetish studded stilettos? But the bespectacled giant is gonna have to suitably discipline his look in order to successfully strike sartorial gold. There have been some creative partnerships of late perhaps worth brushing over (cough, chough, Julien Macdonald at Givenchy) and I’m nothing if not eager to see how the marriage of styles will unfold.  “I want to make British luxury relevant and modern, but remain true to the tailoring and quality that lies at the heart of DAKS.” I truly hope so, Giles.



{mosimage} But amid the present financial climate of our quintessentially English labels, it’s very much a case of sinking or swimming. And if Burberry are winning the 100m front crawl with Mulberry (courtesy of accessories maestro Stuart Vevers) not far behind, DAKS about to tread water, then floundering at the bottom of the pool is my grandmother’s beloved, Aquascutum. But not for long. Getting a good old dust down having lost 10 million in the last year alone, the creaky label has optimistically appointed the woman who made Scottish knitting (AKA Pringle) hip again; Kim Winser, eager she’ll to do the same for them; “Aquascutum’s become sleepy, it’s got no energy” she insists. With a New York flagship on the way in Autumn 2007 and young Brit design duo Michael Herz and Graeme Fidler at the creative helm, their combined vision could prove triumphant. Delving into the archives, the Spring/Summer 07 collection reinterprets Aquascutum tradition with a contemporary edge.



{mosimage} And it’s more than worth noting Stoke-on-Trent’s best export. No, not Robbie, but Belstaff. With Kate’s kudos in their present campaign, the luxury outdoor brand synonymous with motorcycles is back a la mode. After a dodgy primary coloured leather spell in the early 2000’s, they too have revisited their history, proving where lies tradition, lies a profit. And let’s not forget – would HRH Moss be seen gallivanting around Glasto in anything other than royally appointed Scottish Hunter wellies? In danger of becoming cool too is Jaeger. {mosimage}Embracing couture-esque, old school Hollywood glamour they have announced a limited edition, ‘Black’ collection aimed at a younger market.



 Since no longer the preserve of jodhpur wearing Sloaney Ponies and with all the aforementioned appointments, 2007 is going to be an exciting year for our heritage brands. In such a competitive international market it’s vital to be modern and relevant, but our three warrant wonders must hold precious the heart of, not just their original aesthetic, but what defines them: attention to detail, fine craftsmanship – including its origins.{mosimage} I mean, who can imagine a world where HP was made in Hong Kong? Twinings in Taiwan? It just ain’t cricket. We need to clasp these British institutions to our bosom and join Ioan in his quest for national justice! Personally, I’m in two minds as to call the National Trust asking if they’ll branch out into fashion…




By Ellen Grace Jones






<< back to News