; ; 15 Feb 2017

Burberry and the Chav

The Conspicuous Consumption of the Burberry Check Print by Charlotte Slark

This article is part of  the publication ‘Sooner, or Later’. [1]

Design by Charlotte Slark

My essay was about the relationship between the luxury brand Burberry and the group of people known as chavs. The chav was a uniquely British phenomenon which became synonymous with the Burberry check pattern in the early 2000s. The figure of the chav was demonized by the press and became a stereotypical representation of everything that was considered wrong with the working classes at the time. This negative association had an equally negative effect on Burberry’s sales and reputation. One of the main themes of my essay was conspicuous consumption, particularly the ways that people choose to present their social status through dress. I wanted my piece to be representative of this and therefore decided to give people a choice of two colourways when assembling their very own symbol of conspicuous consumption.

Sooner, or later is a collection of visual essays by History of Design MA students at the Victoria & Albert Museum and Royal College of Art. The submissions reflect and refract the research undertaken for an historiographical essay in spring 2016. This project was developed in order to push the boundaries of the essay format through collaboration with other schools at the RCA. The essay brief invited students to write a critical historio­graphy of design change in a category of objects or a design process. The brief tested the ability to: identify patterns of historical change; evaluate different explanations for change; and analyse the social, cultural, gendered, ideological and technological reasons for design change. Sooner, or later is an unbound, risograph-printed publication in burgundy and fluorescent pink. Contributors were given 0.25 square metres, or two sides of A3, with which to cultivate and interrogate their historio­graphical research. Most of the visual essays are the result of collabo­rations with other students at the Royal College of Art.

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