Burberry : fashion icon

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Emma Watson and brother Alex

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Burberry is a luxury brand with a distinctive British sensibility with strong international recognition.

Emma Watson and brother Alex

Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame with her brother Alex model items from Burberry's spring/summer 2010 collection

Since its founding in England in 1856, Burberry has been synonymous with quality, innovation and style.

Its distinctive tartan pattern has become one of its most widely recognised icons.

HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Prince of Wales have granted the company Royal Warrants of appointment (originally in 1955 and 1989 respectively) which Burberry continues to hold.

Burberry was founded in 1856 when 21-year-old Thomas Burberry, a former draper’s apprentice, opened his own store in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England.

Burberry's Knight trademark 'Prosum' meaning 'forwards'

Burberry's Knight trademark 'Prorsum' meaning 'forwards'

By 1870, the business had established itself by focusing on the development of outdoors attire. In 1880, Burberry invented gabardine, a hardwearing, water-resistant yet breathable fabric, in which the yarn is waterproofed before weaving.

The Gabardine was patented in 1888. Burberry was the original name, but then the company soon switched to using the name Burberrys, after many customers from around the world began calling it Burberrys of London. This name is found on older Burberry products.

Burberry's buttonless 'Tielocken' trenchcoat1914

In 1891, Burberry opened a shop in the Haymarket, London, which still exists and until recently was the site of Burberry’s corporate headquarters. Now the headquaters are at Horseferry House just behind Houses of Parliament, Westminster (London).

In 1911 Burberry became the outfitters for Roald Amundse the first man to reach the South Pole and Ernest Shackleton, who led a 1914 expedition to cross Antarctica. A Burberry gabardine jacket was worn by George Mallory on his ill-fated attempt on Mount Everest in 1924.

Burberry trench coat WWI

Burberry trench coat WWI

In 1914 Burberry was commissioned by the War Office to adapt its officer’s coat to suit the conditions of contemporary warfare.

Burberry added epaulettes and ‘D’ rings, and the ‘trench coat’ was born.

After the war, the trench coat became popular with civilians. The famous Burberry check or ‘haymarket check’ or ‘burberry tartan’ was created in the 1920s and used as a lining in its trench coats (variations of their iconic check notably ‘Novacheck’ have been created for the younger market).

It was not until 1967 that the Burberry Check, now a registered trademark, was widely used on its own for items including its umbrellas, scarves, and luggage.

Burberry also specially designed aviation garments. A. E. Clouston and Mrs Betsy Kirby Green made the fastest flying time to Cape Town from London in 1937 and were sponsored by Burberry.

In 2009, Yorkshire born creative director Christopher Bailey was awarded the honour MBE, for his services to the British fashion industry.

London fashion week Burberry 2010 collection

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