In a strange turn of events and in part reaction to the fabricated fantastic world around us there has become a clamor for brands with true heritage, roots, tradition and history. In many ways the greater the brand struggle, the deeper the hardship, the more humble the history then the more credible collateral a business has to take into the future firmament.



At the heart of this consumer desire is “trust.” Always an essential of any brand relationship, but now not just about “trust in performance,” the faith in the prestige and prowess of a product to propel the consumer to some new super-human, super-attractive heights, previously inconceivable and apparently unobtainable; but an original and inherent “brand trust” based on reliability & honesty and built on many years of actually fulfilling and delivering genuine brand actions.


If this is a “Return to History”, there it is also a “Return to Honesty.”

Certainly no bad thing and a growing necessity in the totally transparent Twittersphere we now live in. So, for the “genuine” brand article it’s time to hitch up the heirlooms, remove the dustsheets, and air all the dirty washing from a colourful past. “Where there is muck, there is brass. There are indeed many Untold Riches of a Humble Past”

Building a modern retail empire on historical trust is no “taken” however the likes of John Lewis have shown the way back to the future. John Lewis has used its constant elevation as Britain’s most trusted, most favourite retailer, to develop an omni-channel empire. Ironically perhaps the honesty of the past is even more valuable in the prolific, if still somewhat mistrusted, future of ecommerce, online payment and reliable delivery and convenient returns. Indeed John Lewis has put its historical credentials on the line, and online, and spectacularly shown that its brand reputation, its proposition and its values are no bluff.


Invisible, impersonal and increasingly international commerce has played well into hands of trusted brand stories, and laid open the way for well-known labels to take their place at the new omni-channel table.

Brands such as Ted Baker, Hunter and Doc Martens have forged ahead on the road to building expansive portfolios of stores and enviable international sales, whilst the likes of Burberry have become international experts in cleverly combining the past into the future, for example, transforming the humble trench coat into an international superstar, adaptable, customizable, personable – fit for a modern world yet from an age where practicality and functionality were its only pre-requisite. Building future fashion on a fundamental functionality.


Such is the clamor for authenticity, and the desire to be loved and trusted that some not incredibly old but seemingly established brands have become experts in exaggerating and extrapolating the values and virtues of a truncated history.

Jon Varvatos hails from the derelict domissary of Lower East Side of New York where an unplastered shell of a store combines to sell menswear, music and mayhem in a bohemian temple to the modern man whose values appreciate a bygone age, whilst across in Soho the magnificent RRL store positively creaks and crumbles in distress under the heady weight of its decades of decay, and humble heritage.

These brands from store to social are exceptional studies in the building of a story that encapsulates all that is now important to an established brand. And in many ways the attention to detail, the beautiful product, the exquisite display and attentive customer service are a current incarnation of all that they strive to duplicate and replicate from their histories. In their short lifetimes they have in many ways achieved the status and trust and integrity that older brands have taken decades to establish. A “fast-track to trust?!”

Whether genuine or fabricated, antique or ambiguous … we are all happy with the trappings of a brand that gives us trust and faith in the values of the past… at least, and more importantly hope and trust in a future which promises to be better for having such retailers and brands around.

Let us all trust in a common future where we are all richer in one respect or another, from an appreciation of a humbler past, and all that that implies.



Many retail brands fail to capitalise on the immense value behind their history and origins. In this 24/7 world where potential customers have a non-stop appetite for social stories and online anecdotes these nuggets of nostalgia are truly worth their weight in gold. From the philanthropy of founders to the intricacies of product production many retailers fail to present “stores full of stories” but just “shops full of secrets!”

VM-unleashed advises brands and retailers on how to throw off their humility and inhibitions, dig-down into their rich seams, develop and deliver retail calendars and communicate inspiration across channels in a way that is relevant and exciting to the customer of today, everyday.

Is your brand caught in a static rut?

Are you indeed a store full of secrets, waiting to exploit your heritage?


Let VM-unleashed help you realise new horizons…