The iconic British brand Burberry unites fashion, royalty and celebrities, let’s discover its history and success together
Burberry is a brand that embodies British elegance, timeless sophistication, and the fusion of tradition and innovation. Its history dates back to 1856 when Thomas Burberry founded his company in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England. Since then, Burberry has gained prominence in high fashion, becoming synonymous with style, craftsmanship, and deep connections to the British royal family and celebrities worldwide.
The Origins of Burberry and the Invention of Gabardine
The story of Burberry begins as a modest shop specializing in outdoor clothing. Thomas Burberry, a young apprentice, opened his store offering durable and high-quality waterproof garments. It was he who invented gabardine fabric, a lightweight and water-resistant material that would characterize many of the company’s clothing items in the years to come. Thanks to its reputation for excellent craftsmanship, the Burberry brand quickly established itself as the official supplier to the British army during World War I, with its waterproof and resilient outerwear becoming indispensable for soldiers on the battlefield.
The Relationship with the British Royal Family
Burberry’s connection to the British royal family is deep-rooted and longstanding. In 1955, the company earned the prestigious recognition as the “Supplier of Her Majesty the Queen,” becoming a benchmark for British nobility. Queen Elizabeth II herself is a great admirer of the brand and regularly wears Burberry garments on official occasions. The company has also been awarded the Royal Warrant, a certificate of official recognition from the British royal family. This recognition confirms Burberry’s commitment to providing high-quality products and its role as a privileged supplier to the royal family. The brand has maintained close ties with the British monarchy over the years, creating a lasting connection between fashion and royal tradition. This privileged relationship has helped solidify Burberry’s reputation as a prestigious and refined brand.
The Iconic Check Pattern and the Trench Coat
Burberry is known worldwide for its iconic check pattern, called the “Haymarket Check,” which was introduced in 1924. The red, black, and beige stripes of the check pattern have adorned many of Burberry’s products over the years, becoming an instantly recognizable trademark and a symbol of British elegance. Another distinctive symbol of Burberry is the trench coat, a timeless garment originally designed for British army officers during World War I. The Burberry trench coat has become a true style icon, appreciated for its functionality and timeless aesthetic.
Burberry’s Influence on Celebrities
Burberry has always had a close relationship with the world of celebrities. In the 1960s and 1970s, the brand began to capture a new generation of customers, becoming a favorite among younger Britons. Celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn and Peter Sellers proudly wore Burberry garments, increasing the brand’s visibility and appreciation on an international level. In the following years, Burberry became a cult brand for many Hollywood stars and famous artists, who showcased its clothing and accessories on red carpets around the world.
The Revival and Success
In the 1990s, Burberry faced some challenges, with a perception of being a dated and uninnovative brand. However, in 2001, designer Christopher Bailey was appointed as the company’s creative director, bringing a new wind of change. Bailey introduced a fresh and modern style, combining traditional elements with a more contemporary vision. His creativity and ability to reinterpret the Burberry brand contributed to an unprecedented revival. Collaborations with celebrities such as Emma Watson and Kate Moss further increased the brand’s visibility, making it a household name worldwide. In addition to fashion, Burberry expanded its offerings to include luxury accessories, fragrances, and cosmetics. The brand experimented with digital technologies, becoming one of the pioneers in using social media to promote its image and engage customers. Burberry became a cutting-edge brand while maintaining its legacy of British style and high-quality craftsmanship.
The New Millennium
In recent years, Burberry has achieved significant milestones that have solidified its position as a leader in the fashion industry. In 2014, the brand consolidated its global presence by directly managing over 500 boutiques worldwide, becoming a reference point for luxury fashion enthusiasts. A pivotal moment in Burberry’s history was in 2014 when it became the first brand to make runway collections available for immediate purchase after the show. This innovation redefined the concept of “see now, buy now” in the fashion industry, allowing customers to have direct access to the freshly presented creations. This bold move addressed consumer demands and demonstrated Burberry’s commitment to remaining at the forefront of the industry. In 2016, Burberry was recognized by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index as a leader in the “Textiles, Apparel, and Luxury Goods” sector for its commitment to sustainability. This recognition testified to Burberry’s efforts in promoting responsible business practices, both environmentally and socially. The brand has been dedicated to reducing its environmental impact and ensuring ethical working conditions throughout its supply chain. In 2017, Burberry announced a highly significant collaboration with the Royal College of Art (RCA) to establish the Burberry Material Futures Research Group. This research group aims to take a radical approach in inventing new sustainable materials, with the intention of transforming the customer’s shopping experience and proposing innovations beneficial to the entire industry and community. This initiative reflects Burberry’s commitment to being a pioneer in researching and developing sustainable solutions for the fashion industry. In 2018, Burberry became one of the main partners of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s “Make Fashion Circular” initiative. This collaboration aims to develop solutions to some of the biggest environmental challenges facing the fashion industry, promoting a circular and sustainable economy. Burberry has committed to waste reduction, improving material management, and promoting product reutilization. In the same year, Burberry celebrated diversity and inclusion through the iconic Rainbow Vintage check, decorating the garments of the February collection with rainbow colors. Additionally, the brand made donations to three prominent organizations: the Albert Kennedy Trust, the Trevor Project, and ILGA, all dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ youth worldwide. This initiative demonstrated Burberry’s commitment to promoting equality and supporting marginalized communities. In 2022, Burberry experienced a significant change in leadership with the appointment of Daniel Lee, formerly of Bottega Veneta, as the brand’s creative director. This transition brought a fresh vision and perspective to the brand, reaffirming Burberry’s commitment to remaining at the forefront of innovation and style in luxury fashion. Through these recent successes and constant dedication to sustainability, inclusion, and innovation, Burberry has proven to be a brand that adapts to the times while maintaining its legacy of British elegance and timeless luxury. Its continuous pursuit of cutting-edge solutions and commitment to sustainable and inclusive fashion confirm its role as an icon in the contemporary fashion industry. Burberry is a brand that represents the essence of British fashion and embodies timeless elegance. Its humble origins have given rise to an empire of style and craftsmanship that has become a benchmark in high fashion. With a history intertwined with the British royal family and celebrities worldwide, Burberry has managed to remain relevant and innovative over the years. Thanks to its revival in recent decades, the brand has captured a new generation of customers, becoming a global style icon. With its ability to blend tradition and modernity, Burberry continues to be one of the most esteemed and respected fashion brands in the world, enchanting fashion enthusiasts with its timeless elegance. Discover the best of Burberry at Michele Franzese Moda.