HISTORY OF BURBERRY
In turbulent, pandemic times, we can take great comfort in the familiar. Go ahead, throw open the closet door and observe your perfectly Konmari’d collection of clothing sparking serious amounts of True Fashionista joy. And there they are, next to your fave Prada skirt, hanging above your prized Jimmy Choos, those Burberry pieces rocking that trademark check pattern. We’re going to assume there’s a high probability of a Burberry trench coat hanging with your outerwear in a closet near the front door as well. Cue warm ‘n fuzzies…
Distinctly British, Burberry has been evoking cozy feelings of functionality and style since 1856 when 21-year-old Thomas Burberry established his namesake company in Basingstoke, England. Upon initial launch it was more about clothing functionality. Shares Christine-Marie Liwag Dixon for The List, Burberry’s (original name) was founded on the principle that clothing should be designed simply to protect people from the mostly nasty British weather. To that accord, 20 years later Mr. Burberry proceeded to invent gabardine, a breathable, weatherproof, sturdy fabric that revolutionized rainwear, which up until then had been typically heavy and uncomfortable. His True Fashionista gabardine coats made the brand a household name, and in 1891, Burberry opened his first shop in London’s West End.
HERE COMES THE TRENCH COAT
Burberry hit the proverbial nail on the head once again with the design of the Tielocken coat, as the trench coat was initially called. Invented in 1895 and patented in 1912, it was renamed “trench coat” in honor of its military purpose for British soldiers in WWI. The Tielocken was devoid of buttons for closure, featuring only a belt to keep it closed. As a 1916 ad claimed, its gabardine, double-breasted construction provided protection “from throat to knees”. Noted world explorers would don Burberry gabardine to do things like visit the Arctic Circle and make transatlantic journeys in hot air balloons and airplanes, further cementing Burberry’s place in history. Over the years, Hollywood had a part in Burberry’s trench coat success, with screen icons like Humphrey Bogart wearing one in 1942’s Casablanca and Audrey Hepburn donning one for Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961.
Not being one to rest quietly on his laurels, Burberry continued to build his brand, introducing the signature iconic check pattern lining in the 1920s, according to luxury lifestyle site Departures. The True Fashionista Scottish tartan design with a beige base, accented by black, red, and white was originally sewn into the company’s coats as a lining. It would, in fact, take more than forty years for the design to become enough of a fashion statement to be featured on the outside of Burberry clothing. These days, the cloth is carefully placed so the checks align at a 45-degree angle. We’re sure you’ve noticed, and now you can confirm.
YA GOTTA HAVE THE SCARF
When you think about the check, the Burberry scarf also comes to mind. Created in 1967 as a sort of happy accident, shares The List, the manager of Burberry’s Paris store wanted to add a splash of color to a display of trench coats. He placed some of the coats with the hem facing out to show off the “house check” pattern. Customers loved the look, and soon enough they were demanding merchandise featuring the check. The store made several hundred umbrellas that sold out immediately, and soon decided to start making cashmere scarves as well. The scarf quickly became a status symbol of its own.
It wasn’t until a 1999 rebranding campaign that Burberry’s officially became just Burberry, according to the company’s website. This came with a fresh logo designed by Art Director Fabien Baron.
Among the many, musician Billie Eilish is a fan, sporting head-to-toe Burberry to both the 2019 American Music Awards and 2020 Brit Awards. Always on the cutting edge, Burberry launched their first “Tweetwalk”, an online premier of its spring/summer 2012 womenswear collection on Twitter, posting each look live before it appeared on the runway.
Find lots of Burberry and other luxury brands at TrueFashionistas.com and in our eBay store. Want to learn more? Check out Burberry Days by Brian Kitson. In the meantime, remember our inventory changes daily, so come back often!