Burberry isn’t a tale untold. When a 21 year old Thomas established Burberry in 1856, specialising in outdoor clothing, little did the former apprentice draper would have imagined the kind of legacy he was bound to create. A hundred and sixty one years later, the brand continues to excel based on its rich heritage and the ability to move forward with times and reinvent itself without compromising on its ethics and values.
My fascination with Burberry can be traced back to the trench, or if I actually think harder it had to be the signature Burberry Checks. One can always recognise an Original Burberry product by the quality of the eye-catching checks.
This is a trench tale … Upon the invention of Gabardine by Thomas in 1879 – an innovative fabric which was breathable and weatherproof, he revolutionised rainwear – which up until then had typically been heavy and uncomfortable to wear. The trench coat began as the Tielocken. Patented by Burberry in 1912, it was an unbuttoned style made from gabardine and fastened with a belt, it was developed to serve the needs of the military in the early 20th century. Epaulettes displayed an officer’s rank, while the belt’s metal D-rings were used to attach equipment, and today the epaulettes are used to withhold a scarf between it!
Traditional and modern techniques are combined together at the Burberry textile mill near Keighley, England, where signature gabardine is created. Cotton fibres are chosen for length and fineness before being coloured and spun into super-strong yarn. The trench coats are made in Castleford, England, using over 100 individual processes. The most intricate of these is the crafting of the collar, which takes more than 180 hand stitches to create a fluid curve so that it sits perfectly on the neck. It takes a craftsman over a year or more to learn the fine art.
The cuff straps and belt are stitched to keep their edges clean and flat, while the iconic check lining is carefully cut and placed to ensure it is symmetrical.
New for 2017 – The Tropical Gabardine is an even lighter-weight alternative to their weatherproof cotton. Made with gossamer threads, it shares many of the same techniques as the famous gabardine fabric, and is also woven at the Burberry mill.
The cotton fibres used to create tropical gabardine are even finer, without compromising on durability. In order to create its soft, iridescent palette, contrasting yarns are woven together, before the cloth is tumbled to create its suppleness, volume and easy-on appeal. Personally a Trench Collector, there’s not one I regret purchasing, this Tropical Heritage piece being next on my lust list.
The trench is a coveted possession in ones wardrobe, one that is passed on from a generation to another. More than 40 looms, years of training and over 100 individual processes go into its creation, making it a treasured possession. The Burberry experience allows you to customise your Trenches and other products with your initials and more, making one cherish them even more.
Their signature honey-coloured gabardine is a personal favourite. It effortlessly blends into one’s wardrobe, and is a classic in its nature. The finishing touches of a classic heritage trench include a back pleat or vent, and their famous check-lining. A badge of origin since atleast the 1920’s, their check adorns the lining and undercollar for a subtle flash of their rich heritage.
The Burberry Trench remains to be one of the most iconic fashion products of all times. With a heritage and legacy so rich, it continues to be unfazed by others. Christopher Bailey, the Creative Director at Burberry has from time to time reimagined the trench to make it even more relevant to the evolving times, keeping its values and aesthetics still alive. To me the Trench is not just a mere piece of clothing or a fashion staple but my link to Thomas Burberry, a maverick so ahead of his time. For I believe, each trench has its own tale…