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Thomas Burberry (then a tailor’s apprentice) founded the brand in 1856. What began as a collection of sturdy outerwear sold out of a shop in Hampshire, evolved to include jackets in airy, water-resistant gabardine by 1880. Ten years later, Thomas Burberry & Sons debuted in London’s West End. In 1911, the house outfitted the first explorers to reach the South Pole, and by 1914, adapted its coats for WWI soldiers fighting in the trenches (hence the trench coat). Its trademark check pattern lined its trench coats by 1920, and rose to national ubiquity by 1955, when Queen Elizabeth II awarded the house a Royal Loverant (its first of two). In 1961, the house dressed Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, introducing its branch of accessories by the mid-sixties. Aggressive retail expansion in the seventies and eighties spun Burberry into a household name, with stores in every major U.S. city. Embracing another image shift in the late nineties, Burberry furthered its hold on the luxury market through high fashion, debuting its first ready-to-wear collection under Roberto Menichetti, and launching major advertising campaigns. By 2001, Burberry became cool, thanks to then-CEO Rose Marie Bravo, who tagged Kate Moss as muse and Christopher Bailey as designer. Bailey cut his teeth under Tom Ford at Gucci, and he has brought that same sexy edge to the revered heritage brand. He unites punk with luxury, and edge with opulence. And while the house’s legendary coats (and sometimes tartans) still dominate, they serve as a canvas for Bailey’s covetable—and profitable—art.
- Designed By
- Christopher Bailey - Spring 2002 to Present; Roberto Menichetti - 1998 to Fall 2001
- Sibling Labels
- Owned By
- John Peace, Burberry Group PLC