How David Beckham is ruining Burberry.

Commentary about business and finance.
July 12 2006 5:13 PM

To Chav and Chav Not

Can Burberry save itself from the tacky British yobs who love it?

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More broadly, the brand as it exists today is clearly not pitched to the heartland. Burberry is sponsoring the Anglomania exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And the company's U.S. home page sure doesn't look like Indianapolis.

It makes sense for Burberry to chase growth in the United States. And it makes sense for the raincoat purveyor to chase the sun. Recent store openings have been in San Diego, San Antonio, and Naples, Fla. They might not need raincoats in Vegas or San Diego, but Burberry makes excellent margins on accessories and handbags, like this $1,680 Manor bag. Still, the company shouldn't ignore the places that feature a crappy climate and lots of highly liquid consumers. Forget about Indiana.* How about Connecticut, the Hamptons, the Boston suburbs, Portland, Ore., or Seattle—all of which have yet to be graced with a Burberry store?

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The British company and its American leader certainly are right that they should get away from the British chavs by heading to the American 'burbs. I'm just not convinced they're heading to the right ones.

Correction, July 17: The piece quotes a Financial Times article that claimed Burberry plans to open a store in Kansas. Burberry plans to open a story in Kansas City, but on the Missouri side of the city. Click here to return to the first corrected sentence.

Daniel Gross is a longtime Slate contributor. His most recent book is Better, Stronger, Faster. Follow him on Twitter.