Kathryn Murray talks about a classically British brand
Burberry was founded in 1856 when 21-year-old Thomas Burberry, a former draper’s apprentice, opened his own store in Basingstoke. Burberry today remains quintessentially British, with outerwear at its core. 150 years’ worth of old tradition and print design has made this brand one of the most popular in the fashion world today.
Burberry has always been a very British brand. In 1914, the design house was commissioned by the War Office to adapt its officer’s coat to suit the conditions of contemporary warfare, resulting in the “trench coat” that we all know and love today. This patriotic history is one reason Burberry is still thriving. Burberry is considered to be ‘functional luxury’. The iconic Burberry trench coat itself is made from gabardine, a hard-wearing, water-resistant, yet breathable fabric.
Of course, it is not just the iconic trench coat which epitomises the Brand. The infamous Burberry check was created in the 1920s and used as a lining in its trench coats and later as a pattern in clothing and accessories. However the brilliance of the brand’s pattern is also its downfall. The start of the 21st century saw the classic check become so popular that it lost the exclusive appeal Burberry espouses. Burberry successfully turned the print’s reputation around by removing it from all but 10 per cent of the company’s products. A stroke of genius because now the check’s rarity makes it more desirable.
Although Burberry is focused on heritage and timeless, classic styles, going digital is one of the brand’s key strategies to ensure that customers’ needs can be served efficiently and effectively. Burberry has received awards including ‘Contemporary Design Collection of the Year’, the ‘Classic Design Collection of the Year’ and the ‘Digital Innovation Award’.
Their products fall into one of two main categories: fashion or continuity. Fashion products are designed to be responsive to trends and are introduced on a collection by collection basis. Continuity products have life cycles that are expected to last for a number of years. The clean-cut tailoring, and on-trend collections keep Burberry current while it’s timeless designs make the fashion house desirable.
In recent years, Burberry has successfully rebranded itself with ultra-modern advertisements in GQ, Esquire, Vogue, Tatler, and Harper’s Bazaar. Featuring British celebrities such as actors Emma Watson and Eddie Redmayne, as well as Romeo Beckham and most recently models Cara Delevingne and Kate Moss.
Burberry is a classic British brand which is everywhere; online, on TV, in magazines and in vintage shops. You won’t come across someone who hasn’t heard of this fashion giant, or at least seen the iconic check pattern. Constantly evolving to suit the needs of their customer, whilst continuing to supply classic designs is what keeps Burberry current and ever popular.