The History of Burberry

In the list of fashion brands from across the world, there are very few which are instantly recognizable. Burberry has created a design so distinctive, one look at it and you know what it is. How many times have you seen a checkered scarf or trench coat and the first name that comes to your mind is Burberry. But what is history of Burberry? What did the brand start with before producing lines of Burberry jackets, Burberry women watches, Burberry women sunglasses, Burberry wallets, Burberry bags, and more?

Most people know Burberry for their iconic trench coat and their scarves. Only a few know that the founder, Thomas Burberry, started out as a simple draper’s apprentice. Surprising to find out that the founder of one of the biggest luxury brands in the world used to work with curtains? You should be!

Burberry Beige Kensington Long Heritage Trench Coat S

Thomas Burberry, then a 21-year old, understood how strong and resistant draping is. In 1856, he opened an outerwear and durable fabric store in his name in Basingstoke, England. Thomas also famously invented and patented gabardine in the year 1880 which was water-resistant, breathable, and ultra-strong.

Thomas Burberry soon lobbied well-known British generals to adorn his gabardine. He was also responsible for arranging Burberry outerwear for Arctic explorers and provided tenting for their trips to the South Pole. He introduced the wool tartan check in 1920 and used it as a lining for the trenches as well. Burberry was soon a household name by the middle of the 20th century and was soon associated with British culture and patriotism.

History of Burberry
Burberry Green Textured Wool Cashmere & Cotton Fringe Shawl

Burberry has since evolved and now has taken over three sectors – Burberry Prorsum, Burberry Brit, and Burberry London. Burberry is now known for its beautiful combination of traditional British style and modern flair. English designer Christopher Bailey took over Burberry during the 2000s and turned into the luxurious brand that it is known for across the world. Today, this brand creates Burberry pants, Burberry wallets, Burberry hobo bags, Burberry women handbags, and more.

Here are some fun facts about Burberry you should know:

  • Burberry is a British brand that has been headquartered in Haymarket in London since 1891.
  • The reason Burberry gabardine was so famous for its strength and durability is because Thomas Burberry waterproofed the very yarn of the fabric.
  • At the request of the British army, Burberry adorned the trench coats with shoulder epaulets and rings. You’ll see this design is still prevalent today.
  • Burberry was typically associated with the “football hooligan” culture between 2001 and 2005 when their popular designs were donned by hooligans in football stadiums because of low pricing and counterfeit products. They were soon banned at certain venues which left Burberry realizing the need for a makeover. Christopher Bailey turned it around and transformed it into a luxury fashion house that it is today.
  • The birth of the famous Burberry Tartan scarf is a unique story. It all started with an accident at a shop window in Paris that turned the trench around on a mannequin. A stream of customers started filling inside the shop when they saw the tartan check print that was revealed. Seeing this response, Burberry decided to start making products out of this lining that was inside the coats.

Burberry, what started as a simple outwear brand for the military and for explorers, is now a major fashion brand in the world. Every time you see that stunning tartan scarf, you’ll know how it all started!

Swati Talwar

Global Content and India Office Head

Seasoned lover of the written word. Travel junkie and Hogwarts alumni. Currently composing notes for the upcoming fashion week. You can also call me Licorne Magique (don't ask me why!).

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