Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Once Ubiquitous Burberry Cashmere Scarf

Photo by Salt Water New England
For some people, one of the most ubiquitous clothing items was the Burberry cashmere scarf.  It did not stand out, which was the point.  It simply went with almost every outfit, from formal to casual, and from town to country.  October through March, it was just one of the last things to put on before leaving the house.

Then Burberry decided to become fashionable and put their lining on the outside, and two decades later, one simply seldom sees these anymore.  Some people today identify the tartan with vulgarity and recoil from it almost instinctively.

Given that, perhaps on a scale of 1 to 10, with  1 being a giant Ralph Lauren polo player on anything, and 10 being a pair of khakis, where does the Burberry cashmere scarf sit with you?  Is it part of your wardrobe, and for those who still have theirs from decades ago, do you wear them and when?
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44 comments:

  1. Mine is my constant companion from late November to mid-April. I'm proud of the hard won moth holes and the now faded colors. It sits at a 10 with me. Let the suburban strivers flaunt the bags and the rest of the "swag." The "new" Burberry is definitely designed for those people.

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  2. Purchased mine in London in 1983, it is the scarf of choice when said item is needed from December to March. An 8 or a 9. A classic look that never gets old and one I have always admired. Warm, comfortable, even luxurious. I love the cold weather so I wish the climate caused me to wear it even more.

    The Concord Diaspora

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  3. I never owned the scarf and disliked the ubiquity at the time. This post reminded me of when I lived in Freeport in the late 1990s and bought sweaters at the long-gone Burberry outlet. I wish I still had them!! As for the giant polo player literally and in spirit, that defines the Ralph Lauren outlet in Freeport today.

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  4. I also purchased my scarf in London (Harrod's) back in 1983. I loved it at the time and have for many years, but as stated above the paid has become a bit vulgar in my opinion. I've seen many knock-off plaids made of lesser materials and I think it degrades the old product. I thought the plaid was beautiful at the time, but maybe I've grown up and away from showy items like this. I started wearing a wool scarf about 7' long from J. Peterman: the Oxford Undergraduate Scarf. It reminds me of Bob Cratchit. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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  5. I wear it even in July for the Mark Twain summers here in San Francisco. It's actually a no season item for me. A 10 - love my seen-better-days still serviceable Burberry scarf - acquired and worn since the 1980s, fads or no. Whether 'the' plaid messages something to others is a statement about them and doesn't affect my sartorial choices.

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  6. I love my Burberry scarf. It was purchased in London, along with a classic trench coat by my uncle back in the the 1980's and I was fortunate to inherit them when he passed away. I also wear the scarf with a Burberry camel hair overcoat I bought at a deep discount in the 90's when the store was going "modern" and scuttling all of its beautiful merchandise. I ended up buying the overcoat, a suit, some shirts and ties. I've never been in any of their stores since they went commercial. I will say the classic items from all those years ago have held up well. A 10 for the scarf and the rest of their classic clothing.

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  7. Giving up my Burberry scarf, bought in London in 1967, simply because they're worn by pretentious wannabes, would be like giving up my polo shirt and khakis simply because they're now the uniform of some White racists.

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  8. I have an older one, which I tend to only wear when doing outdoor chores or on country walks, although I do love the colors. On the occasions I've worn it in public, I find people actually ask, 'Is that a Burberry?' Based on that, I would rate it a 2, because people have to ask, which they wouldn't have to do with the giant polo player.

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    1. Be wicked and say "no" - Brit friends love to take the mickey out of people. They have lived with royal warrants longer than anyone in the world.

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    2. Well, I didn't want to admit to my wickedness, but now that you mention it, when asked I usually say, 'No, it's a Thompson tartan.' The Thompson is similar in color, but with a different sett. No one has yet challenged me.

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  9. Don't like the big polo player. Don't like the Burberry scarves. Don't like outlet stores. Don't like Chinese Topsiders. Don't like business casual. Don't like sneakers everywhere. Merry Christmas.

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    1. Dave, I also dislike the vast majority of outlet stores today. However, like most everything else, one used to be able to get some good buys from them back in the 80s and 90s. At least that was my experience with them.

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    2. Outlet stores were great in the early days when they sold end of line or end of season items. You were genuinely getting a bargain. However, they have become increasingly dishonest and often sell lines which are made solely for outlet which have never seen retail stores. RRP prices are printed on swing tickets which have never been relevant due to this reason, and the easily fooled think they're getting a bargain when in reality they're getting an inferior product and paying the appropriate price for it. The only items I tend to buy from outlets now are one-off samples as there is a good chance you won't come across anyone else wearing them.

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    3. "Brooks Brothers Factory stores uphold our reputation for exceptional quality and customer service. They feature a distinct collection consistent with the spirit and style of our main line."

      That's one way to put it!

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    4. Those marketeers are amazing, aren't they?! My favourite is "Made exclusively for outlet". A bit of a contradiction in terms.

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    5. I'm with Dave.

      Jacqueline

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    6. Now that I think of it, many brands now offer the equivalent of their earlier outlet merchandise at full retail! As an example, my L.L.Bean duffle coat from the 1990s was made in the USA, has leather accents and real wood toggles. My duffle coat which they are still currently selling is imported with vinyl and plastic buttons.

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    7. Mad Dogs and Englishmen, another example of amazing marketing is Montblanc's pen barrel made of "precious resin". (I think a garage band should steal that name.)

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    8. One of the biggest lies put forth by the inveterate lira Claudio del Vecchio, owner and CEO of Brooks Bros. is that their outelt items are the same quality as those sold in their main stores. LIES, LIES, LIES! It's been well know for years that this is simply not true.

      With the declining quality of main store items, the lessening of the amount of material as CDV seeks the skinny metrosexual look, the BB Outlet product quality and sizings have decreased even more. In addition, outlet items CANNOT be returned or exchanged at main BB stores.

      I no longer wear my Burberry scarf as it long ago wore out. Like other retailers, BB quality declined and is no longer something I am willing to pay good money for.

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    9. Our nearest big outlet is a MacArthur Glen. I'd say Brooks Brothers, Lacoste, Polo Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, Hackett, Timberland, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, and Joules are all guilty of 'engineering for outlet'. Some are up front about it and will identify which is retail and which is outlet. Most though are happy to push the illusion.

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    10. Patagonia outlets are amazing. It is only past and current season stuff. They frequently have good sales too. It's where I've bought all my parkas for the family and rain coats, shorts, hats, etc. 11/10 recommend.

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    11. Dave, I want to add sleeveless tops to that list of yours.

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  10. You hit the nail on the head. Thinking for a moment while reading this post, I realize I do "recoil" almost instinctively from the pattern. It's ubiquity has cheapened it. We live in one of the colder corners of southern New England. 5 months of the year I usually wear a scarf. I wouldn't wear a Burberry scarf. It would be like showing up at a New Haven pizza-pot luck, if you will, with Dominoes.

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  11. Burberry... Where do you even start? It’s had so many associations and reinventions that it’s in danger of becoming a parody of itself. From supplier of outerwear to Robert Falcon Scott’s South Pole expedition, to favourite of the middle classes in its stylish heyday. From uniform staple of the football casuals and hooligans of the 1980s, to a period of relative obscurity in the 1990s. From association with the ‘Chavs’, aspirational underclasses and trashy tabloid celebrities in the early 2000s, to a period of mass counterfeiting and global recognition throughout the same decade. Then we have Burberry as it exists today, a brand which is shamelessly targeted at the rich with absolutely no concession about ensuring the ‘undesirables’ can never afford and therefore tarnish the brand again. Some call it rebranding, some call it social cleansing.

    We have a Burberry manufacturing factory about 5 miles from where we live. They used to have a superb factory shop and regular staff sales which they would often open up to the public. Many items could be had with up to 70% discount off the RRP and there were lots of one-off samples available. I’ve owned and worn so much Burberry over the years that I don’t really class it as a luxury brand, even in the form it exists in today. It’s more of a nice everyday brand to me. The factory is still as busy as ever but the factory shop and staff sales are unfortunately no more.

    I wouldn’t dream of paying full price for Burberry at today’s prices, but I do still have my cashmere scarf and still wear it regularly. I tend to wear it nonchalantly with casual outfits. Never look like you’re trying too hard.

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    1. I agree with your first paragraph. Burberry has not regained its reputation amongst the middle classes after its Chav association. Its target market is the foreign rich, especially the wealthy Chinese, Asian and Arab tourists who flock to its Bond Street store. They are targeted by the rip-off stores of brands like Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren in Mayfair and Knightsbridge which have lost their class. My elegant British friends naturally avoid those tacky brands like the plague.

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    2. This product sums up the Burberry of today:

      https://uk.burberry.com/embroidered-jersey-sweatshirt-p40565051

      Imported (probably from China, Vietnam or Bangladesh), looks like a counterfeit item bought from a market stall, offers nothing in terms of style or fashion, and will probably be ready for the charity shop by this time next year, yet it will cost you a fiver short of £300. Emperor's new clothes.

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  12. I've got a red tartan Burberry scarf that I wear religiously in the cold months. Does that count?

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  13. I do still have mine and will occasionally wear it. I would rate it a 9 on the scale. As for the big Polo Pony, well it's horrid! Ralph should be ashamed to have allowed this item to see the light of day!. Jane Keller

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  14. I stopped wearing mine a few years ago because I kept seeing them on everyone. The pattern was starting to look trendy to me vice being timeless.

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  15. I first saw the scarves when I was living in London during the eighties. They were worn by chic women and well-dressed men. I admired the look but never bought one for myself. A few years ago, I was back for a shorter stay, and as two earlier commenters noted, I saw them being worn by soccer hooligans and track-suited chavs. It's a shame, but i suppose it's just one of those things that happens. And don't get me started on those huge Ralph Lauren logos...I don't understand why anyone would walk around with a billboard on their chest.

    -Mike

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  16. Perhaps a new sumptuary law would prevent the sorts of problems mentioned here.

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  17. I had one in the 80s, and I still have the long trench coat with the lining on the inside. That scarf may be around here somewhere, but I know that I haven't worn it in years. Burberry did these ubiquitous quilted jackets for women in a multitude of colors with the lining at the end of the sleeves that turned up. I saw them on soccer moms with matching plaid visors and caps. I still see knock-offs of the scarf all over the place, including Walmart. They are acrylic and made in China, of course. Detest that polo pony on steroids.

    Jacqueline

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  18. I just this morning realized that I stole my mother's!

    My father got us each on in London when I was in high school, so the 70s(yikes!). I wear my all winter, every winter. It has a moth hole, alas, but that's how I knew it was mine. Found one at my mother's, with a moth hole and thought I'd managed to leave it there last winter.....right up until this morning, when I saw two in the cubby. Ooops.

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  19. Vulgar summs it up for me, accompanied with a taste of foreign nouveau rich.
    The RRP is insane for the mediocre quality and don't get me started on the trench coats....

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  20. There are three stages in a trend: innovators, imitators and idiots. When the idiots are done, it's safe to go back. I think the idiots are done with Burberry, and it's safe to go back.

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  21. A pink and beige plaid Burberry scarf was given to me several years ago. I wear it occasionally during the winter with the tag discreetly hidden. I am sure no one is aware that my scarf is a Burberry since it is not the tradition plaid.

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  22. My personal favorite is a cashmere Black Watch plaid made in Scotland I bought years ago in San Francisco. Still lovely, soft and the perfect weight. PA

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  23. 1967 = elegant, 2017 = tripe.

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  24. I have never understood who pays the fare to buy Burberry. I have a nice Barbour scarf I paid $75 for.

    Nordstrom's is filthy with the stuff, it keeps the Canada Goose from bumping into the Gucci. This world is totally lost on me. Luckily my Nordstrom's has a shoe shine stand and a bar.

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  25. I have a Burberry scarf in olive. It’s one of my favorites. I bought it in Manhattan in the late 1980s along with a trench coat. Both are still going strong.

    I wear other scarves as well (Barbour, Locharron), but I’ve always liked the Burberry. Perhaps the dark olive color renders it a little different than the classic tan scarf. In any event, it fits right into the rotation.

    I was in China recently. Lots of tan Burberry’s worn on the streets of Beijing. The company is clearly making in-roads in Asia, as are most all major companies you know. At one point, a traffic light changed releasing a horde of moped riders and bicyclists, many of whom wore a tan Burberry. I though the Chinese Army might have changed their colors.

    Frankly, I could care less what others decide to wear or what current fraud the outlets may be perpetrating. What they wear or do has little effect on me. If an article is made well, is constructed from good materials, and has a functional and pleasing design, then I’m all in.

    Aiken

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  26. I have a lambs wool scarf and a silk square scarf in the "plaid." Wear them all the time as they go well with all color coats.

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  27. I know I'm being tacky, but I wear my old "Burberry's" scarf to thumb my nose at those with the newer "Burberry". In my mind, mine is more of a classic than those of today. I also have the navy Burberry's scarf that was popular in the 90's. I like that it is not that recognizable as a Burberry. I am one of those that owns the quilted jacket with the turned up sleeves. I really like it I bought it because I would rather have the original of an item and not a knockoff or copycat. I also have a full length navy wool Burberry's coat with the charging knight pattern on the lining. I bought it over 20 years ago at the Freeport store. I'm pretty sure it is a leftover from a retail store that was sent to the outlet to get rid of. It's a nice warm coat. This is my Burberry story. Most of my items are old and are considered classics in my mind.

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  28. I'm British and I'm afraid that the Burberry tartan still has crass, downmarket connotations after is was worn by Beckham and co. in the naughties. A classic trench coat lined with the tartan is fine, but anything beyond that is considered vulgar.

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  29. I wore a tan Burberry tartan scarf in high school in the '80s, but I don't think I would wear one now. As many have said here, the wide spread of the design and then its chav associations cheapened it grievously. Burberry's overall luxury repositioning hasn't really helped that.

    Now the new CEO, Marco Gobbetti, plans to move the brand even farther upscale than it already has, though investors are skeptical. You might enjoy this article I edited (don't mind the URL, which is from an earlier version we later refined): https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-09/burberry-to-add-leather-accessories-as-sales-beat-estimates

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