Fine craftsmanship, tailoring and technical innovation are behind this pioneering bastion of British style
Set up by John Emary in 1851, Aquascutum opened as a Mayfair tailor. After only two years, Emary had created and patented the first waterproof textile (‘aquascutum’ means ‘water shield’ in Latin), setting the course for the company to become purveyors of stylish, weather-resistant, comfortable clothes for country and leisure pursuits.
From the beginning, the brand has been defined by technical innovation and fine craftsmanship. Before the century was out, the company had gained its first Royal Warrant from King Edward VII, the start of a long period of patronage by the royal family. Broadening its appeal, Aquascutum introduced showerproof fashionable coats for women in 1900. In 1914, the belted and double-breasted ‘trench coat’ was created for military use during the First World War.
Later it became an integral part of the respectable gentleman’s – and woman’s – wardrobe and an icon of British style.
The Aquascutum trench coat was again used by the military in the Second World War and, afterwards, the classic military Aquascutum raincoat became a sartorial essential for Hollywood stars like Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant. Always innovative, Aquascutum’s research resulted in many historical ‘firsts’ during the 1950s. These included the high-tech (wind and waterproof) Wyncol D711 – worn by explorer Edmund Hillary and his team during their first ascent of Mount Everest – the shorter raincoat, the ‘Oscar’ winning showerproof Evening Coat and Aqua Five.
The latter uses an exclusive process that impregnates cotton for rainwear, eliminating the need for re-proofing, and was hailed as the ‘greatest technical advance in rainwear’. The brand has never lost its relevance, responding to each decade’s demands in its inimitable way. 1976 saw it celebrate its 125th birthday with a special feature in Vogue magazine. In the same year, the highly successful and distinctive Club Check was introduced into its men’s ranges. The look symbolised a return to fashion consciousness, offering a new style without compromising the elegant simplicity of the traditional British look.
In 1987, when British prime minister Margaret Thatcher paid a visit to the USSR, Aquascutum supplied her wardrobe. In 2003, as the brand began to win legions of Asian devotees, the first flagship store opened in Tokyo.
Taking to the catwalk in 2005 at London Fashion Week, Aquascutum confirmed its standing as a brand that sets trends while continuing to define timeless elegance. Following its debut menswear show at the 2012 London Collections Men, Aquascutum triumphantly returned to the West End with the opening of its Great Marlborough Street store in 2013. This was followed by a shop on Jermyn Street a year later. In 2015, its made-to-measure tailoring service was re-launched at both stores. In 2016, the Jermyn Street store was transformed into a newly extended space that showcases the best of both menswear and womenswear collections.
AQUASCUTUM 24 GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET, LONDON W1F 7JL +44 (0)20 3096 1864
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