Thomas Burberry, the brand's founder, opened his first shop in Basingstoke, England in 1856. His experience developing weatherproof garments for outdoor pursuits led him to create the iconic trench coat in 1879. The coat's innovative double-breasted design, D-ring belt, epaulettes, storm flaps and tartan lining made it both fashionable and functional.
Burberry's first major expansion came in 1901 with the opening of its London store. Its trademark check pattern, inspired by Scottish tartans, soon followed in the 1920s and quickly became a signature of the brand. In the mid 20th century, Burberry outfitted high-profile explorers and military officers, cementing the trench coat as a status symbol.
Central to Burberry's enduring appeal is its 'democratic' positioning, balancing luxury with accessibility. Under creative director Riccardo Tisci, the brand has introduced more casual and youthful styles while retaining its sophistication. Limited edition capsules cater to high-fashion collectors alongside core, trademark classics available more widely.
From Kate Moss in the 1990s to stars like Emma Watson and Cara Delevingne today, Burberry has been intertwined with British cultural trends for generations. Its evolution from practical outerwear to diversified luxury wear reflects social change while retaining ethos. Collaborations with young creators keep it fresh yet familiar.
Burberry has not been without controversy, including accusations of promoting unethical labor practices abroad in the early 2000s. But under CEO Marco Gobbetti since 2017, Burberry has focused on sustainability and ethical business standards in its global supply chain.
As one of the most digitally-savvy luxury brands, Burberry is leaning into metaverse and web3 for future growth. With 165 years of history adapted into new mediums, Burberry is poised to outfit virtual explorers in interactive worlds as much as city streets.