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Burberry clothing was founded in 1856 when 21 year old Thomas Burberry, a former draper's apprentice, opened his own store in Basingstoke, Hampshire. By 1870 the business had become well established and focused on the development of outdoors attire. In 1880 Thomas Burberry invented gabardine fabric, which is hardwearing, water-resistant, yet breathable, in which the yarn is waterproofed before weaving. A patent was taken out for this in 1888.
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In 1891 Thomas Burberry opened an emporium in the Haymarket, London, which still stands today as the company's headquarters. Ten years later, the company was commissioned by the War Office to design a new service uniform for British officers. They also became the outfitters for Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole in 1911, then to Ernest Shackleton on his 1914 expedition to cross Antarctica. When war broke out in Europe that year, the company modified its military designs to suit the conditions of contemporary warfare encountered by British troops, and the trenchcoat was created. After the war it became popular with civilians and over the years has been worn by Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther films, and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. In 1955 Burberry was bought by Great Universal Stores (GUS, owners of U.K. High street retailers Argos and Homebase.
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