Blue Bloods Want Their Plaid Back

from NY Times Magazine: In Elizabethan England, there were sumptuary laws to prevent members of the rabble from dressing above their station. This was never really effective, but to understand how truly futile it is these days for the upper classes to try keeping the masses in their sartorial place, you need to know what a chav is. ”Chav” — the champion buzzword of 2004 in Britain, according to one language maven there — refers to something between a subculture and a social class. Experts disagree about the slang term’s origins, but the unofficial definition sounds rather condescending or even cruel: a clueless suburbanite with appalling taste and a tendency toward track suits and loud jewelry.
In any case, there’s one aspect of chavness that almost every description mentions right away: Chavs love Burberry. The most popular element of the chav uniform is the Burberry plaid cap.
Of course, when a huge and decidedly not upper-crust class embraces such a signifier, its meaning is completely altered. Sounding thoroughly unamused, Stacey Cartwright, a Burberry executive, argues that this chav business is just a trivial tabloid story. Besides, she continues, ”the caps that the so-called chavs wear are actually counterfeit products; they’re not our products.”
Thanks to CMO Magazine for the pointer.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.