It may only have been a monkey’s wedding but today’s much-welcomed drizzle in Cape Town did catch me off-guard and get me thinking about appropriate gear for the change in weather. One particularly iconic item came to mind, the Burberry trench. Although Burberry is currently celebrating the company’s 160th anniversary, it wasn’t until 1912 that founder Thomas Burberry designed this instantly recognisable classic.
Crafted using gabardine, a breathable, hard-wearing, water-repellent fabric invented by Mr Burberry in 1879, it gets its name form the trenches where military personnel were stationed in World War 1 and also worn by the Brits during the Boer War. Originally called the Tielocken, Burberry designed the original coat to keep officers protected against wind and rain and is believed to have supplied about half a million to the British Army. There are over 100 processes need to complete a trench coat and apparently it takes about three weeks to make just one.
Burberry was the outfitter of choice for several polar explorers such as Ernest Shackleton and in 1937 the company sponsored the record-breaking 45-hour-and-six-minute flight from Croydon to Cape Town, piloted by Betty Kirby-Green and Arthur Clouston in “The Burberry”, a de Havilland DH.88 Comet Racer.
To celebrate their anniversary, the company commissioned Academy Award-winner director Asif Kapadia to produce "The Tale of Thomas Burberry". Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Dominic West and Lily James, the story is inspired by the pioneering discoveries of their founder. The short film also features the track 'Diminuendo' performed by Lawless featuring Britt Warner.