By Ashley Frost

chavs1Ah Burberry, the iconic look of elegant trench coats, warm scarfs and of course plaid. A little over a decade ago a group of working class youths in England became obsessed with the classic Burberry plaid print. Now I don’t mean obsessed as in ‘ask for Burberry for every birthday and Christmas’ way, but these people started wearing mass quantities of fake Burberry. I’m talking Burberry hats, strollers, jackets, pants and even cars and houses were starting to be painted plaid. Soon Burberry had a total PR crisis on their hands.

Chav is a stereotypical name for young people in Britain who are not well educated, typically violent and wear fake designer clothing. When Burberry was experiencing a huge revival in popularity in the early 2000s a group of young and rowdy citizens began wearing massive amounts of beige plaid in an attempt to look cool. And thus Chav “culture” was born.  chavs2Soon after this cult-like obsession with the print began, Burberry responded. In 2002 the beige plaid was visible on one fifth of Burberry’s products, three years later in 2005 the classic check was only visible on around 5% of products.

It didn’t help Burberry’s problem that pubs started banning people wearing the pattern, in fear that they might be violent offenders. As a response Burberry stopped selling the plaid baseball caps that had become a Chav favorite. When a Welsh band tried to auction off a plaid car, Burberry took legal action and demanded that the car be destroyed. One man even had his house painted plaid, and no I am not kidding. He really thought that was a good idea.  It isn’t just knockoff plaid that makes these thugs so recognizable, they have a pension for large gold jewelry, and are almost alwayschavs4 wearing some kind of sportswear. Track suits, sweat pants, wife beaters, fake Nike tennis shoes, they basically look likeAmerican rappers but with fake Rolexes.

In the Unites States, Chavs could easily be compared to the Guidos of Jersey Shore.  Both groups love a good track suit, designer goods (either real or fake), have a tendency to look a little trashy and have anger management problems. Chavs are currently much more disrespected in the UK than Guidos are in the US, several books have been written and movies created about the rise of these designer-loving thugs. All his does make me wonder; if the cast of Jersey Shore were a tad more violent or a little trashier would Americans still love them? Or would our government learn from Britain and try to find ways to keep them off the streets?

In every society, in every country and in every era there is going to be a group of working class citizens whom the rest of the social sphere looks down upon. I cannot think of a group more fascinating and with so much character than Britain’s Chavs and I am eagerly looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this fascinating group.chavs3


 Bothwell, C. (n.d.). Burberry versus The Chavs. BBC News . Retrieved September 22, 2013, from

 Burberry fashion brand reports 40% profit rise. (n.d.). BBC . Retrieved September 22, 2013, from

 Burberry perfume, burberry clothes, seen Burberry HOUSE before?. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2013, from–burberry-clothes–seen-burberryhouse-before

 Nostalgia for Old Labour . (n.d.). The Commune. Retrieved September 22, 2013, fro

Classic Cotton, Timeless Trench

By Alex Holder

Cotton is arguably the most classic fiber of all – it’s used in everything from coffee filters to gunpowder to our favorite fashion must-haves. This famous fiber gave way to one of the most widely accepted trends yet: the trench coat.

Humphrey Bogart

Used by British soldiers during the Boer War and World War I, trench coats were designed to keep soldiers dry while lying in, well, the trenches (pun intended). After the war, the trench coat became hugely popular among civilians and even made its silver screen debut in the 1940s.

But let’s rewind for a minute, all the way back to 1895 when Thomas Burberry, yes that Burberry, created this novel waterproof garment. Most of his clients at this time were farmers, so he began experimenting with our good friend cotton.He discovered that by producing tightly woven twill made from long staple Egyptian cotton, this new fabric was not only water resistant, but also weatherproof and virtually untearable. In 1897, Thomas Burberry patented this fabric, called it gabardine, and the rest is history. Nearly 14 years later when Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer, conquered the South Pole, gabardine and Burberry stood up to the test.

As I said earlier, after the war was over, soldiers continued to wear their trench coats on the street and other civilians wanted in on this hot commodity. In the 1940s, women swooned over Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and again, the classic trench coat was an integral wardrobe staple. You’ve all heard the saying… “women wanted to date him and men wanted to be him”.


Flash forward two decades and the world saw Miss Holly Golightly herself, from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in an unforgettable sight wearing none other than her Burberry trench coat. Audrey Hepburn was a fashion icon and if she wore it, you better believe everyone else wanted to wear it. Around the same time, Pink Panther came on the scene giving way to a whole new look for detectives – complete with an oversized magnifying glass, leather gloves, and of course, his trench coat.

When the trench coat was first created, it was calf-length and beige – not unlike what you probably still imagine a trench coat to look like. However, over time and through the many changes of fashion, trench coats have taken on slimmer shapes, shorter hemlines, and a variety of colors.


 Some wonder why the trench coat has remained popular for over 100 years now. I think it boils down to three main things: it’s weatherproof, it’s timeless, and it’s effortless. Again and again we see this fashion staple showing up everywhere from my hometown of St. Louis to the Upper East Side a la Blair Waldorf. It really has stood the test of time and even though design continues to evolve with its wearers, the form, the fabric, and the purpose all remain the same. This classy coat has been seen throughout history on runways, war heroes, movie stars, and everyday fashionistas making trench coats truly timeless.

Are you intrenched? Find out more:

Fletcher, M. The Burberry Trench Coat. Retrieved from

History of the Trenchcoat. Retrieved from

Horrocks, S. (2008, Nov 23). The Timeless Trench. Retrieved from

Want To Know It. Uses of Cotton. Retrieved from