[bur-buh-ree, -ber-ee]

Burberry is a British luxury fashion house, manufacturing clothing and fashion accessories. Its distinctive plaid pattern has become one of its most widely copied trademarks. The company has branded stores and franchises around the world, and also sells through concessions in third-party stores. It runs a catalogue business and has a fragrance line. HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Prince of Wales have granted the company Royal Warrants. Burberry's trademark products are its fashionable handbags and exclusive fragrances. The Design Director is Christopher Bailey. The Company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a consituent of the FTSE 250 Index.


Early years

Burberry was founded in 1856 when 21-year-old Thomas Burberry (1835 - 1926), a former draper's apprentice, opened his own store in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England. 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 soon switched to Burberrys, after many customers from around the world began calling it Burberrys of London. This name is still visible on many older Burberry products.

In 1891 Burberry opened a shop in the Haymarket, London, which still exists and is the site of Burberry’s corporate headquarters. In 1901, the Burberry Equestrian Knight Logo was developed containing the Latin word "Prorsum", meaning forwards, and registered as a trademark. In 1911 they became the outfitters for Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole, and Ernest Shackleton, who led a 1914 expedition to cross Antarctica.

In 1914 Burberry was commissioned by the War Office to adapt its officer's coat to suit the conditions of contemporary warfare, resulting in the "trench coat". After the war, the trench coat became popular with civilians. The iconic Burberry check was created in the 1920s and used as a lining in its trench coats. The coats have been worn by Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther films.

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.

Recent history

Burberry was an independent company until 1955, when it was bought by Great Universal Stores (GUS). Burberry Group plc was initially floated on the London Stock Exchange in July 2002. GUS spun off its remaining interest in Burberry in December 2005.

In 2006 Rose Marie Bravo, who as Chief Executive had led Burberry to mass market success, retired.


To complement the Burberry USA online store, the UK in October 2006 launched their transactional store, and in March 2007, extended order fulfilment across selected European countries. In November 2007, fulfilment was again extended to the whole of the EU. Both sites offer the latest new arrivals and classic pieces.

The Burberry Check

The black, white, and red pattern known as haymarket check or the "Burberry classic check" was first used as a lining for the Burberry trenchcoat in 1924. It was not until 1967 that the Burberry Check, now a registered trademark, was widely used on its own for items including umbrellas, scarves, and luggage. The Novacheck was introduced for the younger market, later altered by making it more "exploded" (bigger) and slanted in a diamond or "mitre" pattern. Christopher Bailey debuted of the "Housecheck", a more exploded version of the Novacheck, during the runway show of S/S 06.

UK image problems and revitalisation

During the 1970s, the brand became popular with the British football casual cult, leading to it to being associated with chavs, hooligans and members of football firms by the 1990s. The brand became something of a national joke, particularly when actress Danniella Westbrook was photographed with her young daughter wearing matching Burberry.

However, the brand has been relaunched with rigorous advertisements in high-end magazines like Vogue, Tatler and Harper's Bazaar.


External Links

See also

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