Burberry is the latest fashion house to declare that serifs are back in style.
This week, the British label unveiled a new logo featuring an understated typeface, complete with small but clearly visible serifs on the edges of each letter, replacing The redesign nods to the 167-year-old brand’s heritage – to underscore that point, Burberry also brought back the logo’s equestrian knight motif, a man on horseback carrying a banner reading “Prorsum” (forwards in Latin), albeit with a tweak to showcase the logo in a bright blue.
The new look comes just weeks before Burberry’s new creative director, Daniel Lee, presents his first collection at London Fashion Week on Feb. 20 and comes at a time of high stakes for the brand. There are undeniable hopes that, armed with a new creative director and a new look, Burberry, long the anchor of the British luxury market, will be able to propel itself back to the centre of fashion conversation.
But the lettering also marks a retreat from Burberry’s last attempt at tinkering with its brand codes. It was only in 2018 that the company revealed a logo that featured a sleek, bold font, the logo the work of British graphic designer Peter Savile.
At the time, tails-free fonts were in, migrating from the start-up world to century-old luxury houses. Brand after brand, including Balenciaga, Berluti, Balmain and Saint Laurent, rolled out logos featuring thick, unembellished typefaces. Each company made its case for why its sanded-down lettering represented a unique creative choice, and the easily readable, bold typefaces were fitting for an era of sales bumps for logoed products. But the undeniable similarity prompted a backlash. A graphic that showed the variety of the prior logos compared with the new ones made the rounds on social media. Creative directors Thierry Brunfaut and Tom Greenwood coined a new term to describe the monotony: “blanding.” It stuck.
Now, the pendulum may be swinging back.
Burberry is not alone in embracing the more traditional-looking serif-style fonts: In the last few years, Bottega Veneta and Salvatore Ferragamo have also rolled out new wordmarks with serif typefaces, albeit with an au courant twist. (Ferragamo’s was designed by Savile, the designer of Burberry’s 2018 logo.) For each brand, the serifs are present, but understated. Just this week, Phoebe Philo also hopped on the serif bandwagon, with the first Instagram post from her new brand showing a wordmark in one of the world’s most recognisable fonts: Times New Roman.
The timing for Burberry’s switch makes sense. The Savile-designed logo was introduced early in Riccardo Tisci’s tenure as creative director. The Italian designer took the house in a more modern direction, to a mixed reception. While Tisci’s heavily-logoed TB bags reflected consumers’ obsession with splashy brand symbols and streetwear influences, it also alienated more conservative Burberry customers, the ones who loved the brand for its deep British heritage.
Burberry named Daniel Lee to the post of creative director in September 2022, nearly a year after his abrupt departure from Bottega Veneta. While the new logo leaves no doubt about Lee’s own preferences when it comes to logo design — after all, he introduced a strikingly similar wordmark during his tenure at Bottega — it nicely illustrates his plans for the brand.
It also appeases those who flock to the brand for its trench coats and plaid scarves, while remaining rooted in the 2020s. The new logo isn’t a carbon copy of the pre-2018 one – the serifs are subtler, for starters. But the equestrian knight logo , which was first trademarked by the brand all the way back in 1909 and was used consistently for over 100 years following.
Consumers, already, seem to be receptive to Burberry’s changes. “The knight is back!” one commenter wrote on Instagram. “This logo and new look is brilliant,” another said.
It remains to be seen, however, if the warm response will continue if other brands introduce busier logos. They appear more traditional and heritage-driven, an approach that is resonating with luxury consumers — the post-pandemic winners in the sector are brands that lean heavily on their histories, such as Chanel, Hermès and Louis Vuitton. As well, Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga all have recently discussed a desire to recalibrate their focus on the brand’s history.
But as their striking sans serif counterparts, too much of anything can trigger changes in consumer reception. In a few months, consumers may be calling it Blanding 2.0.
There’s an argument to be made, however, that even if these sorts of logos become de rigeur in luxury, it shouldn’t deter brands for whom it really is the most natural fit. Serif or sans, there isn’t one sort of font that’s a clear cut win for luxury brands. Instead, what matters is what feels in line with a brand’s ethos and overall aesthetic. (Burberry’s 2018 logo, for example, may not have felt like a natural fit for the storied brand, but was actually a modern interpretation of British typefaces from generations past.) If a brand just hops on a trend because it’s what feels of-the-moment without much thought behind it, that’s where the backlash begins.
THE NEWS IN BRIEF
FASHION, BUSINESS AND THE ECONOMY
Phoebe Philo sets digital-first debut for September. The famously social media-shy designer has launched an Instagram account and will unveil her first collection under her own name via phoebephilo.com.
Balenciaga to focus on collections, heritage amid continuing controversy. The French brand will scale back on spectacle and focus on design after being accused of sexualising children, designer Demna told Vogue in the company’s first interview since the scandal last year.
Capri cuts forecasts as demand slows, shares plunge 20 percent. Luxury companies weathered inflation better than other industries as affluent shoppers dipped into pandemic savings, but persistently increasing prices have now prompted high-end spenders to stem their splurging on designer labels.
Ralph Lauren beats quarterly revenue estimates. Net revenue rose 1 percent to $1.83 billion in the third quarter ended Dec. 31, while analysts had expected $1.76 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
Tapestry raises annual profit forecast. The company said it now expected fiscal 2023 earnings of $3.70 to $3.75 per share, compared with its prior estimate of $3.60 to $3.70.
Adidas slumps after Ye warning. After a 71 percent surge, the stock slumped as much as 11 percent Friday, the biggest decline in more than two years.
Report: Beyoncé’s Ivy Park misses Adidas’ sales targets. Sales for the singer’s inclusive streetwear line, which is produced in collaboration with Adidas, fell more than 50 percent in 2022 to $40 million, far below Adidas’ $250 million revenue projections, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.
Moncler ‘Genius’ to collaborate with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, Mercedes-Benz. The outerwear giant’s London Fashion Week outing will also showcase new collaborations with Adidas, Alicia Keys and Pharrell Williams in a bid to broaden the initiative’s reach.
EU considers ban on ‘forever chemicals’, urges search for alternatives. If passed, the ban could become the region’s most extensive piece of regulation of the chemical industry.
US senators ask Shein about forced labour concerns for cotton. In a letter dated Thursday, three senators sought details about the company’s procurement process and its links to Xinjiang, a region of China whose products are banned for import into the US by federal law. The letter requested a response within 30 days.
China’s luxury market shrank 10 percent in 2022, according to Bain Report. China’s luxury market contracted 10 percent in 2022 on the year, snapping a five-year streak of high growth, as Beijing’s zero-Covid policy and a slowing economy hit spending, Bain & Company said Tuesday.
THE BUSINESS OF BEAUTY
US demand boosts L’Oréal fourth-quarter sales, China weighs. L’Oréal posted 8.1 percent sales growth in the fourth quarter, a touch slower than in the previous three months. The cosmetics company, which sells Maybelline mascara and CeraVe skin care, recorded sales for the last three months of 2022 of 10.3 billion euros ($11.1 billion), in line with analyst expectations, according to Refinitiv data.
Coty raises profit forecast on resilient demand, price hikes. The company’s shares rose about 4 percent to $10.80 in premarket trading after also beating expectations for second-quarter revenue and profit.
Off-White names Isamaya Ffrench as beauty curator. In her new role, the makeup artist will oversee the creative, product and packaging development of the label’s burgeoning beauty line.
Shiseido’s announces new growth strategy, sees fiscal year profits fall. The beauty company reported on Friday that full-year sales grew by 5.7 percent for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, to approximately 1.07 trillion yen, or $8.1 billion.
Nearly 60 hair relaxer lawsuits against L’Oréal, others consolidated in Illinois Federal Court. At least 57 lawsuits have been filed in federal courts across the country over the products, which use chemicals to permanently straighten textured hair, court records show.
Olaplex customers claim hair loss and scalp injuries in lawsuit. The complaint filed Thursday accuses Olaplex of making false statements, including that its offerings restore damaged hair and provide the “ultimate breakage insurance.”
Fashion journalist Hilary Alexander has died. The New Zealand-born British journalist died on Feb. 5, her 77th birthday, said the Graduate Fashion Foundation, which Alexander became honorary president of in 2019. Alexander — known especially for her energy and enthusiasm — was the fashion director of The Daily Telegraph for 26 years.
Stella Jean drops out of Milan Fashion Week, citing stalled diversity progress. The Haitian-Italian designer interrupted a National Chamber of Italian Fashion press conference to call out the nonprofit’s purported lack of movement on promises to support designers of colour.
Richemont bolsters sustainability expertise in its top ranks. The Swiss luxury group has promoted its chief sustainability officer Bérangère Ruchat and plans to add to its board a car-industry veteran who worked on the shift to electric vehicles.
The Fashion Trust US announces first finalists for awards. Finalists for its ready-to-wear award include Black Boy Knits, Aknvas, Elena Velez, Puppets and Puppets. Winners will be announced at a ceremony in Los Angeles on Mar. 21.
Asos names Sean Glithero as interim finance chief. Glithero has been named as interim finance chief to help drive its turnaround plan, succeeding Katy Mecklenburgh who leaves in May.
MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY
Hermès wins ‘MetaBirkin’ NFTs trial. A jury in New York sided with the French luxury house in its year-long legal battle against Mason Rothschild over his digital renditions of its famed Birkin bag.
Australian luxury e-tailer Cettire posts $8 million net profit. The online fashion retailer reported 187 million Australian dollars (US$123 million) in revenue during the six months that ended Dec. 31, up 65 percent year on year.
Compiled by Joan Kennedy.