I wouldn’t go so far as to call this Burberry’s scarf vintage, but it is definitely the type of thing I’m always looking for. The 1930s travel theme is reminiscent of the ads actually ran during that time, but I do not know if these illustrations came from actual vintage advertising. Here’s an example from 1934.
Burberry has seen some huge changes since Thomas Burberry opened shop in 1856. From the beginning, the business was ”designed by sportsmen for sportsmen” as Thomas Burberry got into the textiles business because he saw the need for a better waterproof coat for hunters. He developed a waterproof cloth, called it gabardine, and proceeded to make the coats that would make him famous. After King Edward began referring to his coat as his “Burberry,” the name stuck as a synonym for raincoat.
In 1901 Burberry developed a coat to be worn by British officers. During World War I this coat was adapted to life in the trenches, and thus became known as the trench coat. (However, there are other companies, such as Aquascutum, that claim to be the creator of the trench coat.) In 1924, a special check of tan, red, white, and black was developed for the lining of the trench. Today, that check is as iconic as the trench coat itself.
Throughout the early 20th century, Burberry was a maker and developer of sporting clothes for both men and women. He made improvements in motoring clothes in a day when roads were dusty and motoring was a dirty activity. He also patented a special sleeve for women’s golfing attire, one that allowed the arm free movement in a day when women’s sleeves were tight and constricted movement.
Despite making one of the world’s most desirable garments, by the 1990s Burberry was in trouble. They had licensed the name, especially in Asian markets, and inferior goods were being made under the Burberry’s name. In 1997, the company began to regroup in an effort to save their image. The name was officially changed to Burberry in 1999, though some of the licensed goods continued on under the old name.
In a real twist of irony, the company did make a complete turnaround, but they did so by becoming a fashion brand. The quiet Nova check lining came out from the lining of the trench and onto everything from dog coats to underwear. It became known as a “luxury” brand. I say this was ironic, because Burberry was always a luxury, being made for and sold to those who had the leisure for sporting and the money to support the lifestyle. Today, the luxury label means little, except to say that the goods are expensive.
I’m always bemoaning the fact that classic American brands like Levis and Converse and Coach are now made primarily in China. Well, add Burberry to the list. Their handbags are made in the same mega-factory as Coach handbags.
But there is always vintage, and Burberry trench coats are not that hard to find on the secondary market. I have one from the 1980s, and it looks fantastic. And the scarf? It’s hard to say, but my guess is the 1980s as well. Here’s a closer look at the fantastic illustrations.