In 2004, Burberry the 140 year old UK fashion house faced a crisis – the iconic Burberry Check had become the brand of choice for Chav’s across the UK – billions of dollars were being spent by Average Joe and Sub-average Jacki on anything emblazoned with the Check and within three years of launching the line Burberry’s brand was a ghost of its former self.
Burberry well and truly deserved their fate. Unlike Louis Vuitton’s monogram, counterfeiting was not the force behind the mass adoption of the iconic weave, Burberry themselves had provided access to their range through an accessories line including scarves and baseball caps. They leveraged their significant brand cache to sell an entry-level product range and all but destroyed their brand as a result. The Burberry brand was dead in the UK, no self respecting fashionista would be seen wearing the Check, worse still, by 2007 even the Chav’s were too self conscious about the Burberry cliché to wear the gear outdoors!
Sure fashion is a fickle thing, but Burberry were truly a victim of their success, and in fashion many others have suffered a similar fate.
Increasingly, fashion’s undesirables are adopting the iPhone as their key to cool, just as the true cool are heard to say “it’s just a phone, I’ll change it soon”. iPhone has some runway yet, there are a few hundred million people still to buy one meaning Apple have at least a couple of years of stellar revenues to look forward to from their phone division; but when the fickle face of fashion is looking the other way, what damage will have been done to the broader Apple brand? Take a $3,000 Mac, strip out the brand cache, and you’re left with some very expensive industrial design and a world of compatibility pain.
If Apple is no longer cool, will you still buy it?