Burberry was founded in 1856 when 21-year-old Thomas Burberry (1835 - 1926), a former draper's apprentice, opened his own store in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England. Thomas Burberry was a true visionary characterised by an entrepreneurial spirit, a sense of adventure and a rare gift for invention. The foundation that he established for the Burberry brand that bears his name continues to govern Burberry worldwide recognition as an icon synonymous with enduring styles, uncompromising quality and genuine originality.
By 1870 the business had established itself by focusing on the development of outdoors attire. In 1880 Burberry invented gabardine, a hardwearing, water-resistant yet breathable fabric, in which the yarn is waterproofed before weaving. The Gabardine was patented in 1888.
In 1891 Burberry opened a shop in the Haymarket, London, which still exists and is the site of Burberry’s corporate headquarters. In 1901, the Burberry Equestrian Knight Logo was developed containing the Latin word "Prorsum", meaning forwards, and registered as a trademark. In 1911 they became the outfitters for Ronald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole, and Ernest Shackle ton, who in 1914 led an unsuccessful, yet glorious, expedition to cross Antarctica.
The black, white, and red pattern known as Haymarket check or the "Burberry classic check" was first used as a lining for the Burberry trench coat in 1924. It was not until 1967 that the Burberry Check, now a registered trademark, was widely used on its own for items including umbrellas, scarves, watches and luggage. In the 1990’s the Burberry check because popular with football fans leading to a tarnishing of the brand luxury image. However the brand has recently been re-launched with a more youthful image.
Burberry was an independent company until 1955, when it was bought by Great Universal Stores (GUS). Burberry Group plc was initially floated on the London Stock Exchange in July 2002. GUS spun off its remaining interest in Burberry in December 2005.