Burberry SS19: at the cutting edge of both fashion and consumerism
18 September 2018 08:37
Yesterday morning, as I strode down Regent’s Street on my way to the DRUGSTORE CULTURE office, my pace involuntarily slowed as I passed the Burberry flagship store. The store’s windows had been enveloped in the brand’s new monogram print for the past week or so, as its new creative director Riccardo Tisci prepared for his debut show at the fashion house. But yesterday, 10 hours before he was due to reveal his first collection, I caught a glance of the store’s interior through a gap in the gift-wrapped window display. I saw nothing particularly special, only heavy beige drapes and men up ladders, but still, I suddenly felt excited. The buzz of Tisci’s arrival had finally got to me.
Moving from Givenchy to take the reigns from Christopher Bailey, who helmed Burberry for a substantial 17 years, no-one quite knew what to expect from Riccardo’s first show. Sure, we were given glimmers of his vision for the brand here and there: a custom vintage check stage costume for Beyoncé; a fresh ‘T’ and ‘B’ monogram to take full advantage of the current logomania trend; and a plain black t-shirt with said monogram placed above the left breast, which went on sale for 24-hours only via Instagram and WeChat. Essentially, Tisci and his team are social media masterminds; well versed in the many ways one can drum up an Insta-storm. They had the Internet at Beyoncé – and they’d barely given anything away.
So what happened when the secrecy was lifted and eager fashion editors were let in to the world of Tisci’s Burberry at 5pm on the 17th of September? While he stayed true to the brand’s heritage, incorporating muted tones, classic cuts and, of course, Burberry’s iconic check print, into many of the pieces, Tisci’s show had a rebellious edge that felt – how to say this? – just really damn cool. Clunky schoolgirl Mary Janes were awkwardly paired with white ankle socks and eighties blazer dresses, while exaggerated gold tassels embellished skin-tight leggings with matching co-ords. Bright red PVC raincoats provided a sharp relief from the more traditional trench cuts, perfectly encapsulating the spirit of London’s youth: simultaneously playful and bold.
But while the clothes were interesting, for me, the most striking thing about Riccardo’s first show as the creative director of Burberry is that – much like the recent monogram black t-shirt that went on sale for 24 hours – a capsule collection of limited edition pieces will now be available to buy through Instagram, WeChat and the brand’s Regent Street flagship store. And, again, only to those who move quickly within a 24-hour time limit. Social media has had a profound impact on the fashion industry over the past few years – whether it’s through influencers unsettling the traditional hierarchy at fashion weeks, or the rise of Insta-brands such as Rixo and Realisation Par – but this new mode of luxury shopping could hail a new era of consumerism, where the decision to buy a £290 t-shirt is made in an instant as we scroll through our feeds.
Drop culture and relentless micro trends have already put many in a state sartorial anxiety, always poised and ready to fill their baskets with the must-haves of tomorrow. Burberry’s SS19 collection launch strategy serves only to exasperate this. ‘Don’t think about the money, buy this right now or be left out,’ is the underlying messaging. The target market is someone exactly like me, who panics when the status of the trainers I’ve been eyeing up on ASOS turns to ‘low in stock’.
Fortunately, I don’t have the budget to fall victim to this ‘commemorative’ marketing scheme. However, after succumbing to the hype outside the Regent’s Street store yesterday, I can’t confidently say that I wouldn’t accidentally swipe and buy in a reckless FOMO-meets-YOLO moment had I infinite funds in my bank account. And that’s what scares me. People can spend their money however they please, but the current fashion cycle seems to perpetuate a need for constant spending, and Burberry’s social media sale strategy only amplifies this. Can’t we just view a collection, and then take a few months to ruminate on the trends before deciding how to populate our wardrobes for the coming season, like the good old days?