Thomas Burberry was born in 1835 in Dorking Surrey, UK. He trained as an apprentice to a draper.
In 1856, he opened his own drapery business, called T. Burberry and Sons, in Basingstoke, Hampshire. Business thrived and by 1870 Burberry became known as an "emporium" with an increased focus on the development of outdoor wear for local residents and visiting sportsmen who frequented the store.
Thomas Burberry invented gabardine; a breathable fabric made using an innovative process where the yarn was waterproofed before weaving. This fabric was not only water-resistant but also extremely durable. A patent was taken out in 1888.
In 1891, Burberry established a wholesale business in London. In 1891 Thomas Burberry opened his first shop at the Haymarket, now the site of Burberry’s corporate headquarters.
The officer’s Tielocker Coat, designed by Burberry in the 1899’s, was the forerunner to today’s trench coat.
The Burberry Equestrian Knight logo was developed and registered as a trademark in 1901. In 1902, Burberry established "Gabardine" as a trademark and in 1909, the "Burberry" was registered as a trademark for the company's coats.
During World War I Burberry designed coats for the British Royal Flying Corps (later the RAF). The military style model of the Burberry became the Trench coat of the First World War. It has a deep back yoke, epaulets, buckled cuff straps, a button-down storm flap on one shoulder and storm pockets. After the war, the Trench coat was absorbed into civilian life. Known as a "Burberry" it has been copied worldwide.
The Burberry Check, registered as a trademark, was introduced as a lining to the trench coat in the 1920’s. In the 60's Burberry made a stab at the fashion scene, and the famous check was seen on umbrellas, luggage and scarves. Their plaid is now one of the most recognized in the world.
In the 1980's, the company started to revitalize its brands and trademarks. This was accompanied by retail expansion, opening stores in New York and other major cities. All major stars and celebrities have worn Burberry trench coats. Audrey Hepburn wore one in "Breakfast in Tiffany's".
Burberry was first awarded the Royal Warrant from Her Majesty The queen in 1955. A further Royal Warrant was awarded in 1989 by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
He died in 1926 at the age of 91.
Clean lines, classic style, and traditional colours (offshoots of the red, black, beige, and white Burberry check). The clothes are striking in their simple beauty.
Kate Moss and Beyonce Knowles. And almost everyone in New York has a real or, more likely, knockoff scarf or bag.