Thomas Burberry (27 August 1835 – 4 April 1926), the English clothing designer and the founder behind the eponymous brand, was born in Brockham Green, Surrey, England. His early years were marked by a keen interest in fabric and tailoring, foreshadowing the remarkable career that awaited him. Little did the world know that this humble beginning would give rise to a fashion legacy that spans centuries.
1856-1870: The Apprenticeship
In 1856, the ambitious Burberry began his apprenticeship with a local draper, honing his skills and mastering the art of garment construction. It was during this period that he developed a deep appreciation for the intersection of functionality and style — a principle that would later define his brand.
1870-1888: The Birth of Burberry
With an entrepreneurial spirit, Thomas Burberry opened his first shop in Basingstoke at the age of 21. The establishment quickly gained a reputation for quality craftsmanship and innovative designs. In 1879, Burberry patented gabardine, a durable and water-resistant fabric that became synonymous with the brand’s signature trench coats.
1888-1901: Royal Recognition
Burberry’s commitment to quality did not go unnoticed. In 1888, he received his first royal commission, crafting weatherproof coats for the British military. This marked the beginning of Burberry’s longstanding association with the armed forces and solidified his position as a purveyor of garments that seamlessly blend form and function.
1901-1920: The Iconic Trench Coat
The early 20th century saw the iconic Burberry trench coat become a staple for explorers, aviators, and celebrities alike. The brand’s commitment to innovation extended beyond fabric, with the introduction of the iconic Burberry check lining in 1920 — an enduring symbol of British style.
1920-1926: Expanding Horizons
As the brand’s popularity soared, Thomas Burberry expanded his vision globally. Stores opened in Paris and New York, making Burberry a symbol of international style. The brand’s innovative spirit persisted, with the introduction of the Burberry Equestrian Knight Logo, cementing its status as a global fashion house.
Having observed his company’s evolution from a modest store to a publicly traded entity, Thomas Burberry passed away peacefully at his residence in Hook near Basingstoke in 1926. He was 90 years old at the time of his demise, and the exact cause of death remains unspecified. Thomas Burberry’s legacy continued to thrive posthumously. The brand expanded its product range, offering a comprehensive selection of ready-to-wear fashion and accessories. The iconic trench coat remained a timeless classic, worn by fashion icons and enthusiasts alike.