London Fashion Week
Read time 6-7 mins
In celebration of London Fashion Week, William George & Co. will be exploring iconic fashion brands and how their unique designs managed to take the fashion world by storm.
Fashion passes; style remains - Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel
In our series, you will be able to delve into the rich history of iconic fashion houses like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and more to celebrate what made them stand the test of time in an ever-changing environment.
We begin our London Fashion Week series with Burberry.
The Man Behind Burberry
Burberry is a luxury fashion label based in London, England. Their history dates back to 1856 when Thomas Burberry founded the label at the age of 21. Even though Burberry was quite young, his ambition was able to take him and his company to a new level after the invention of a material that helped to curb the issues caused by rain.
Burberry's Raincoat Revolution
One of Thomas's greatest inventions was gabardine. This material was able to transform rainwear by liberating people from the uncomfortable feeling of wearing clothes drenched in rain. This type of ingenuity enabled Burberry to get their name out there and become known as a viable alternative to brands at the time.
Burberry's Move to London
Burberry announced their intentions to the fashion world when they moved to London in 1891. However, it was many years later when they began to establish their brand with famous designs still inspiring them today. Here, we go through two of their most famous:
1) The Trench Coat
It was not until 1912 when Burberry created one of their most signature designs - the Trenchcoat. It was patented in 1912 by Burberry but there is an ongoing dispute over who is the official inventor of the Trenchcoat as another label called Aquascutum have a similar claim.
Burberry's trenchcoat helped to raise the profile of the marque as it was used in WW1 by the British Army.
In addition to the British Army, Sir Ernest Shackleton, the famous polar explorer, wore a Burberry-designed coat on three of his expeditions.
2) The Burberry Check
After the massive success of the invention of gabardine and the Trenchcoat, Burberry upped the ante with a design which later became a staple for the brand to this day, the Burberry check.
This design came in the 1920's and was made up of a Scottish tartan design with a beige base, accented by black, red, and white. Burberry would later ascend into a luxury fashion brand buoyed by their famous Burberry Check.
However, it was not long before their greatest asset would be used against them in the later years which is a pervasive problem faced in the fashion industry.
Demise of Burberry
Burberry would later run into difficulties as their check became one of the most widely copied designs in fashion and was quite prevalent in the 80's and 90's. This created one of the worst problems faced by a luxury fashion label - ubiquity.
When luxury labels suffer ubiquity it dilutes the brand because it's seen to be widely available and this goes against the convention of what a luxury item is.
Burberry realised their ubiquity would lose them their regard of being known as a luxury fashion label as upper-class customers were moving elsewhere. Burberry was licensing their iconic trademark to help keep their sales up which started to compound the problem.
Burberry began a campaign to take their brand identity back under the stewardship of Angela Ahrendts and Christopher Bailey.
Burberry has since gone on to establish themselves as one of Britain's finest luxury fashion brands with a rejuvenated image and a slot in London Fashion Week 2018.
Even though Burberry has endured a chequered history, their triumph is just another story added to the history of great British brands.
If you enjoyed this article then check out our series on Haute Couture which begins with Louis Vuitton. Hit the button below.