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Wednesday, 29 May, 2002, 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK
Burberry's journey through fashion
One of Burberry's advertising campaign pictures
Burberry is floating with a revamped image
Burberry, with its distinctive red, black and camel check, has become a must-have fashion brand.

Stars including Madonna, Kate Moss and David Beckham have sported Burberry goods, helping to boost its image.

In just a few years it has lost its hopelessly old-fashioned status and become a modern luxury brand selling perfume, shoes and bikinis alongside its traditional coats and bags.

And in July Burberry will make its debut on the London stock market.

Gabardine macs

The business was founded by Thomas Burberry who opened a draper's shop in the Hampshire town of Basingstoke in 1856.
Burberry's trademark check
Burberry's check is fashionable again

He invented the breathable and waterproof fabric gabardine and its success allowed him to open his first London store.

Burberry was commissioned to design new officers' uniforms for the British army and its trenchcoats became regulation dress during the First World War.

Burberry's gabardine macs were also worn by Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's and Peter Sellers in The Pink Panther.

Conservative image

The trademark check did not actually make an appearance until the 1920s and then it was simply as a lining to the trenchcoat.
Burberry's history
1856 Founded by Thomas Burberry
1880 Invented gabardine
1901 Designed British army uniforms
1924 Check used to line coats
1967 Check used for umbrellas, scarves, luggage
1997 New management
2002 Announces flotation

The check itself became a fashion item in the 1960s when it was used on umbrellas, luggage and scarves.

Its very British image made Burberry a hit in the Asian and US markets, and the company expanded overseas.

But Burberry's sales were hit by the Asian crisis.

It also became burdened by its conservative image and by the middle of the 1990s it was ailing.

New designs

Rose Marie Bravo was hired as chief executive in 1997 from Saks Fifth Avenue in the US, and had the job of restoring the brand.
Actor Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey Bogart wore Burberry in Casablanca

She brought in new designs, new products and an advertising campaign starring supermodel Kate Moss.

Burberry reinvented itself and became a highly profitable company, although its sales have suffered following the 11 September terrorist attacks.

And some critics say it has stretched its brand too far.

Football hooligans

These days Burberry's designer shirts and baseball caps are widely worn on the football terraces.

BBC 2's Hooligans series showed that football hooligans in particular were keen to sport the designer label.

But a couple of years ago Burberry was probably worth 200m to 300m.

Now analysts say the company is worth between 1.2bn and 1.8bn.

See also:

29 May 02 | Business
16 Apr 02 | Business
11 Oct 01 | Business
23 May 02 | Business
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