Burberry…. patented a method of waterproofing both the yarn and the finished cloth and producing a lightweight breathable cotton fabric...
This gents’ raincoat dates from the 1920s and was found in a house that had once belonged to the Burberry family. It is lined with a checked cotton fabric and belted, with the buttons concealed so that rain cannot penetrate by means of the buttonholes.
Thomas Burberry’s shop in Basingstoke had been established in the middle of the 19th century, supplying clothing to the local population. A shop at 30 Haymarket in London opened in 1891 and the firm has since expanded to have an international presence.
The garments offered for sale included shepherd’s smocks, made of heavy cotton.
Thomas Burberry noticed that smocks absorbed the lanolin from the sheep’s wool and that the oils appeared to waterproof the garment. Waterproof outerwear was already available, treated with rubber using the Mackintosh process, but the cloth was heavy and could be uncomfortable to wear.
Burberry found and patented a method of waterproofing both the yarn and the finished cloth and producing a lightweight breathable cotton fabric that could be made up in a number of ways. Production of this new cloth, which Burberry named ‘gabardine’ began in the 1880s.
The ‘Burberry check’ was introduced as a lining in the 1920s and is now recognised as a trademark. More recently it has been used for garments and accessories such as bags, hats and umbrellas which are seen as an affordable means of accessing the Burberry brand.
Burberry garments were supplied to Roald Amundsen’s successful expedition to the South Pole in 1911 and to Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition in 1914.
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