MADE IN ENGLAND
In 1851, while Queen Victoria's consort, Prince Albert, held the Great Exhibition, Mayfair tailor John Emary was determined to introduce the latest innovations in menswear when he opened his upmarket shop in Regent Street. His main concern was the reliable waterproofing of outerwear and only a few years later, in 1853, he had a brand new technology patented after succeeding to produce a shower-proof textile. That same year, he changed the name of his company to 'Aquascutum&', from the Latin &'aqua&' -water- and 'scutum' -shield-. The unusual word created interest from the start. A cascade of orders for the new rain-repellent clothes was the consequence and the streets of Mayfair were filled with Victorian boulevardiers wearing the 'Aquascutum Wrapper'.
In the same year Aquascutum's development and success were honoured with the freedom of the City of London. Further recognition came during the Crimean War when weather resistant coats were very much in demand. British army officers equipped themselves with Aquascutum raincoats and withstood the rigours of the Russian winter. One Brevet Major Goodlake and his Sergeant claimed they owed their lives to grey Aquascutum coats. Indistinguishable from their Russian foe they marched with the enemy army until they could escape and rejoin their own lines. The Captain's coat is preserved at Newstead Abbey in the Midlands.
In the late 1870s Emary and his son, John Ledbury Emary, left Regent Street, handing Aquascutum over to Scantlebury & Commin, who continued manufacturing fine clothes. They contributed to fashion history by improving the Raglan sleeve and introducing the pinstripe suit. Under their lead, Aquascutum became famed for weather resistant and comfortable clothes worn for country pursuits and leisure - for walking, motoring, riding, shooting and golf. A trade mark registered in January 1895 lists Ernest Commin as owner of the business who had moved it to new premises at 100 Regent Street.
By the end of the 19th century important and influential people were setting the fashions in Aquascutum overcoats, including the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, who, in 1897, granted Scantlebury & Commin Aquascutum's first Royal Warrant.
For almost fifty years Aquascutum had catered exclusively for the needs of gentlemen. With women leading more active lives in the late 1890s, it moved with the times and began designing fashionable shower-proof coats and suits for ladies.
Around 1900 Aquascutum paid tribute to these changes by opening a womenswear department. The introduction of shower-proofed fashionable coats for ladies earned Aquascutum a second Royal Warrant from the Prince of Wales in 1903, who, as King George V, granted his warrant again in 1911. Aquascutum now supplied clothing to a court which kept a truly busy social schedule.
In 1909 the first factory opened in Kettering ensuring that the quality of material, cut and superb workmanship remained integral to the business.
Today, almost a century later, Aquascutum remains committed to employing authentic craftsmanship, using the finest and most luxurious materials available in its British factory in Corby. It is here that trench coats, raincoats, coats and an extensive range of luxury clothes are still developed and produced.
The War of 1914 turned Aquascutum's thoughts to a more serious direction, to the trenches. Officers faced problems with the liquid, mud and rain, which clung to and permeated their coats. As most of the overcoats supplied to the military were not lined, they were found to be useless and subsequently thrown away. To overcome this calamity, Aquascutum aimed at eliminating annoyances and finally succeeded in manufacturing a belted, double breasted coat, the trench coat,
featuring a new invention: the removable, buttoned-in cotton lining. It was delivered with a special interlining of permeable oil-dressed fabric and secured the praise of many contented officers.
After the war, conquering civil fashions, the trench coat proceeded to become an integral part of any respectable gentleman's and woman's wardrobe and has since been an icon of British style.
During the optimism and new flourishing of style in the 1920s, Aquascutum's popularity and reputation for quality outerwear Grew, both at home and abroad.
In 1920, the Prince of Wales, later Duke of Windsor, granted his warrant. His trip to Japan in 1923 accelerated the commercial exchange between the two insular nations, resulting in Aquascutum's Japanese trademark of 1924. Elegant and fine clothes of British origin had reached the other side of the world.
In the early 1920s plans were carried out to turn Regent Street into a more stylish boulevard.
The whole area and with it the famous Quadrant 'crumbled into dust' during the refurbishment exerted by the Crown Estate. It was re-opened by the King and Queen in 1927 and with it the imposing House of Aquascutum at the new, enlarged 100 Regent Street.
Throughout the decade, Aquascutum collections led the fashions of the day with raised hems and lowered waistlines, adapting to new trends whilst never losing timeless style. A very popular model was the reversible coat, the ideal garment made for the late 1920s 'flapper'.
In 1932, Aquascutum was handed over to Isidore Abrahams. He was followed by his two sons, Sir Charles and Gerald M. Abrahams. It was these two outstanding businessmen who for more than half a century were responsible for the company's numerous achievements in sophisticated clothing.
The 1930s saw many elegant special events as the decade developed into a period of consolidation and success.
Towards its end Aquascutum's New Fashion Salon was the latest and most stylish of London's contributions to the clothing world. It was promoted by a brochure containing lavish fashion shots taken on location.
The supreme quality of raincoats and overcoats 'rendered Aquascutum secure enough from imitation' and the famous 'Scutum' weatherproof coats in pure new wool cloth enjoyed a worldwide reputation as the most serviceable garments available.
World War II caused shortages of every kind including clothes. Rationing began in 1941 and did not end until the summer of 1949. 'Utility fashion' reflected the scarcities of the time. Garments were not allowed to have fancy pleats, hem allowances were minimal and only a few functional fastenings were permitted as decoration.
Thus, in the 1940s, once again, Aquascutum found itself in the front line. During the Second World War its coats kept the allied soldiers warm and dry in France, Germany, Iceland and Norway. Sailors on winter convoys and airmen on night-long bombing raids wore Aquascutum coats into battle.
It was a time when research was intensified to make Aquascutum trench coats more reliable. Fabrics had to undergo several wetting spray tests and garments were qualitychecked individually in a strict procedure.
After the war, the classic military good looks of an Aquascutum raincoat became an essential piece for the silver screen's most iconic stars like Greta Garbo and Humphrey Bogart. One of the most successful designs of the era is the 'Kingsway' trench coat for men, that alongside the 'Queensway' coat for ladies wrote fashion and film history.
After the war, in 1947, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth granted Aquascutum her Royal Warrant. When her daughter Queen Elizabeth II succeeded to the throne in 1952, she as Queen Mother, granted her warrant again.
As Aquascutum celebrated its centenary with a special collection praised in Vogue, history seemed to repeat itself with the opening of the Great Exhibition of 1951. It was a period of regeneration and hope for the future.
In the fifties Aquascutum's previously conducted research resulted in many historical and creative 'firsts' including: the exclusive Wyncol D711 conquering Mount Everest; the shorter raincoat, a trend that spread around the world; the 'Oscar' winning shower-proof Evening Coat; Antartex that explored the South Pole and 'Aqua 5', the exclusive process of impregnating cotton for rainwear, eliminating the need for re-proofing.
The 'Aqua 5' launch in 1959 was acknowledged by the press worldwide and led seamstress Elsie Newman to the US and Canada, where she presented an 'Aqua 5' raincoat to the mayor of Montreal. 'Aqua 5' was introduced during the grand opening of the refurbished store.
Influential and important people came together to celebrate Aquascutum's successes - ambassadors, politicians, heads of industry and commerce, celebrities and Sir Clement Jones, a customer who had shopped at Aquascutum since 1899.
In fashion terms, Aquascutum progressed and brought its own style to the dramatically changing trends of the swinging sixties, when bright colours and bold designs were the order of the day.
The Aquascutum look was increasingly popular around the world and in 1966 the company won the Queen's Award for Export Achievement. In the same year, Aquascutum's President, Gerald M. Abrahams, was awarded a C.B.E. for his outstanding contributions to British fashion and style.
It was also a decade when Aquascutum attracted the creative and innovative. Displays in the 60s, for example, bore the handwriting of Adele Rootstein, the reputed display and interior designer.
In 1967 Club 92 was opened, offering gallant young clothes for men who were 'as young as they felt'. The look symbolised a return to fashion consciousness, offering style and innovation while retaining the simplicity of the traditional English look.
The 70s was a hugely successful decade for Aquascutum. The company was granted the Queen's Award for Export Achievement no less than three times; in 1971, 1976 and 1979.
Club 92 evolved into The Aquascutum Club and advertisements from the early seventies show menswear with tremendous elegance and style. In 1976 Aquascutum celebrated its 125th Birthday which was marked by a special feature in Vogue magazine.
The same year saw the introduction of the highly successful and distinctive Club Check into the men's ranges. In 1978 after the success of 'The Pink Panther Strikes Again', starring Peter Sellers in an Aquascutum coat, the Evening Standard launched a competition featuring iconic detectives in trench coats. Winners impersonating famous screen inspectors from Clouseau to Columbo, were awarded Aquascutum coats.
The 80s saw the introduction of a full range of women's fashions and sportswear including a complete wardrobe of casual separates and smart town suits. Aquascutum also launched a wide range of accessories and small leather goods in the Club Check.
It was a period of expansion with more Aquascutum shops opening in the USA, Canada, France, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Seoul and Singapore.
The most prestigious event of the decade was the presentation to Aquascutum of the Grant of Arms in 1982 by His Grace the Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal of England. The presentation was made in recognition of the company's reputation and long heritage.
From 1987 on, when she paid her historic visit to the USSR, the wardrobe of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was supplied by Aquascutum, from coats and tailored suits, to rainwear, dresses and evening wear. For three years Baroness Thatcher's name appeared on the World's Best Dressed List, when all her clothes were specially designed by Aquascutum.
Moving forward into the next decade, Aquascutum explored further opportunities with new ranges created for international markets. In 1990 a modern factory was built in Tilbrook, Milton Keynes. It was opened by the President of the British Knitting and Clothing Export Council, HRH The Princess Royal.
The 1990s saw the Aquascutum club check pattern taking a stronger presence within the collection. Customers rejected overt logos and emblematic brand promotion in favour of the understated confidence gained from the more subtle cues hidden in a check.
Top performance demands top quality wear - Aquascutum was elected to supply the official uniforms for the Great Britain Olympic team for two consecutive years: The Olympic Winter Games 1994 in Lillehammer and again for the Olympic Team 1996 in Atlanta. Great Britain brought several gold medals home on both occasions.
Aquascutum welcomed the new millennium with an anniversary collection celebrating 150 years of sophisticated luxury British tailoring.
In 2003 Aquascutum opened a flagship store in the exclusive Marunouchi district of Tokyo close to the Imperial Palace, marking the continued success and expansion of the brand in Asia.
The 2004 re-launch of the Raincoat Room at the London flagship store in Regent Street integrated traditional interior with contemporary British design and exceptional service.
The store houses the complete collection of suits, tailoring and catwalk collections.
Since September 2009, YGM Trading Ltd. has acquired the exclusive and absolute right in Asian territories of Aquascutum. This acquisition is another milestone in Aquascutum’s continuing expansion into the international fashion market.
THE WORLD OF AQUASCUTUM
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