Burberry's Fashion Evolution
Burberry Prorsum – the clue is in the name. Burberry: the British heritage brand synonymous with gabardine trench coats and with its trademark plaid and Prorsum: Latin for ‘forward’. This means that the catwalk collections produced by Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey encapsulate the brand’s sensibility for any given season and as such will filter to the every element of merchandise from the top down.
In recent seasons, the aforementioned mackintosh and the military attire of the label’s archives have been the starting point upon which each collection is based. There have been elegantly draped tulle evening dresses as well as a ruffed-up rock look with a studded belt cinching in an altogether darker trench. Although modern, Burberry is never less than tasteful, in this case, ‘wearable’ is certainly not a dirty word.
The man responsible for the tailored finery is Christopher Bailey – a modest and unassuming Yorkshireman who, in his understated way, has seen Burberry raise its revenue by 21% in one financial year alone, exceeding £1 billion for the first time in 2009. He was only 29 in 2001 when he was appointed creative director, but seeing as his design pedigree was Donna Karan and Gucci under Tom Ford (whose turnaround of the fortunes of the Italian brand is doubtless the inspiration for renewed investment in so many fading heritage brands in various countries) and he’s proved his backers right. The addition of fragrance, accessories and menswear has boosted the company’s bottom line as well as Bailey's designs, although it is said he oversees every last product to go out bearing the Burberry stamp.
Thomas Burberry originally set up shop in 1856, inventing the waterproof gabardine fabric in 1880. After establishing itself as the ideal choice for outdoor types, hunters and riders, Burberry then took responsibility for designing outerwear for the soldiers in the trenches of WWI, hence the name 'trench coat'.