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The History of Burberry | Then and Now

Founded by Thomas Burberry in 1856 as a single store in Basingstoke, Hampshire, Burberry has now become one of the most exciting British high fashion brands. Embracing luxury and quality, they continue to lead the way with their innovative marketing campaigns, core Burberry heritage style and love for impeccable craftsmanship.

As we delve into Burberry’s history, we discover the milestones which have led to the brand’s formidable success.

16 Dec 2021

Founding Burberry

In 1856, ‘Burberry’s’, 21-year-old Thomas opened his first store in the English county of Hampshire, designing outerwear with a focus on shielding people from the British weather. He even created his own fabric to achieve this in the best way possible – Gabardine is fully breathable yet waterproof. It became, and it remains, the key fabric in Burberry’s outerwear collection. Gabardine was such a success that Thomas patented the fabric in 1888, nine years after inventing it.

Having grown a considerable following with record-breaking explorers setting off on their expeditions dressed in Burberry, the designer ran a public competition for a new logo design in 1901. The well-known equestrian knight was the winning entry and the Latin word ‘prorsum’ was added to it, meaning ‘forwards’.

 

The iconic Trench coat

In 1912, the designer released and patented their Tielocken coat, which is widely understood to be the Trench coat’s predecessor. It wasn’t until 1914 that the iconic Trench coat appeared with practicality in mind. Designed during the First World War, the features of the coat were carefully considered to be suitable for soldiers fighting in the trenches. The brand’s iconic Burberry Check was used to line the rainwear collection in the 1920s, having been registered as a trademark.

Burberry receives Royal warrants

In 1955, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II granted Burberry a royal warrant as a weatherproofer and in 1990, HRH The Prince of Wales granted the designer a royal warrant as an outfitter. During this time, the brand purchased a factory in Castleford which is still used to manufacture Burberry products today.

Burberry’s becomes Burberry

In 1999, the name of the brand changed from ‘Burberry’s’ to ‘Burberry’ and Fabien Baron, the Art Director at the time, designed a new logo to mark this.

Burberry Kids is launched

In 2001, Burberry launched its first childrenswear collection, largely inspired by the adult lines and archival pieces. It was this same year that Christopher Bailey was appointed as the new Design Director for the brand.

 

Revolutionising high fashion

Burberry has become well-known for being forward-thinking. In 2010, their fashion show was streamed live– the first of its kind. Taking this initiative a step further, Burberry premiered their spring/summer 2012 collection on Twitter, posting the looks before they headed down the runway. Four years later, they took the industry by storm offering their runway collection for immediate purchase after the shows.

An ethical designer

Beginning the movement towards a conscientious high fashion industry, Burberry was the first luxury brand to join the Ethical Trading Initiative in 2010. Six years later the designer was acknowledged as the industry leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

In 2017, Burberry Material Futures Research Group was established in partnership with the Royal College of Art, focused on the creation of new sustainable materials and enhancing the manufacturing process. In keeping with the theme of sustainability, Burberry joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s ‘Make Fashion Circular’ initiative which centres on finding solutions to the environmental issues brought about by the fashion industry.

A Rainbow Vintage Check was used throughout the brand’s February 2018 collection, celebrating and promoting diversity and inclusivity. The company also made generous donations to three organisations during that month who work to support LGBT+ youth all over the world.

 

Burberry today

In 2018, Ricardo Tisci became Chief Creative Officer, taking over from Christopher Bailey. In the same year, Burberry launched a new brand logo and monogram with Peter Saville.

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