We love this new video of the Burberry Spring/Summer advertising campaign, we recognise the man in this but cant quite work out who he is...answers on a postcard please
The very name Burberry may reek of tradition and those timeless standards of quality that the British do best, but the company has, since its founding, been a real force for innovation—as the motto Prorsum (Latin for “forward”), on its knight-and-horse logo, bears witness.
In 1856, young Thomas Burberry set out to equip local sportsmen from a small outfitter’s shop in Basingstoke, England. He made his name by patenting gabardine, a waterproof, tightly woven cotton inspired by the loose linen smocks worn by English shepherds and farmers. Gabardine, patented in 1888, was nothing short of revolutionary. It was at once lightweight, breathable, and highly durable. “A veritable suit of mail” is how one magazine would describe the gabardine coat that became commonly known simply as a “Burberry.” Maharajas and country doctors alike adored the all-purpose, all-weather garment. “Fetch me my Burberry,” King Edward VII would instruct his valet.
By the early 1900s, business was booming in the Burberry emporium on London’s Haymarket Street. The firm gained prestige by outfitting high-profile Antarctic explorers, aviators, balloonists, and mountaineers. And, in addition to kitting out more humble seekers of adventure—golfers and skiers and horsemen—it soon got into the business of fine everyday outerwear, too: overcoats, ladies’ hats, and traveling capes in the distinctive tweeds and plaids that are still associated with the brand.
But Burberry’s first, and still greatest, claim to fame is, of course, the trench coat. Devised for British troops fighting in World War I, it was fitted with shoulder straps for epaulets and D-rings for grenades. Later, the double-breasted weather-beater was adapted for civilian wear, gussied up with gun flaps and lined with the signature Burberry check.
The Burberry trench stands as a true symbol of Englishness, as British as marmalade on toast. Over the decades, the tan, belted overcoat has remained a familiar sight from palace to pub. (What other clothing item could be worn by both the Queen and Sid Vicious?) A Burberry trench not only speaks to one’s good taste, but signals its wearer’s good sense: It has more or less never gone out of style, making it the most practical fashion investment one could make.
Rainwear remained the primary focus of Burberrys, as the company was then known, as late as the sixties and seventies—but its executives, surveying the success others in the industry were having with diversification, decided it would be wise to branch out. Umbrellas and cashmere scarves in the Burberry check became top sellers, and they did a solid business in sturdy ready-to-wear basics, too. Then, in the late nineties, Rose Marie Bravo came on board as CEO. The Bronx-born dynamo swept the cobwebs out of the slightly musty old house and began laying the foundation for a modern luxury brand, launching the house’s designer line, Prorsum, with much fanfare in 1998.
At the dawn of the millennium, the newly revamped Burberry competed with the likes of Gucci and Louis Vuitton in satiating the public’s appetite for logos and status symbols. Burberry plaid plastered everything from canine raincoats (sported by chic Labradoodles on the Upper East Side) to suitcases and spike heels. Of course, logo mania proved eventually to be too much of a good thing, industry-wide, and within a few years, Burberry’s ubiquitous check had hit the oversaturation point. A new creative director, Christopher Bailey, was brought in in 2001; he reined in the runaway pattern, and by 2010 it featured prominently on less than 10 percent of products.less
In just a decade, Bailey turned what was essentially still an outerwear and accessories company into a Fashion Week favorite. From the ruffled capelet to the Warrior bag, Bailey’s runway has been one long hit parade. The trendsetting designer has kept the house’ legacy vital via regular infusions of street cool. The company archives provide a launch pad from which he takes a flying leap into a very modern present: Trenches are made from neoprene and python; motorcycle jackets sport enough studs to outspike a porcupine. British whimsy sparkles through every collection.