Founded in 1851 as a tailors’ shop in Mayfair, Aquascutum is one of Britain’s quintessential clothing brands, best known for its classic luxury raincoats and tastefully restrained English style. Founder John Emary set out to create a waterproof wool that would stand up to the damp British climate, and by 1853 he had succeeded, branding it Aquascutum (literally “water shield” in Latin). Almost from the beginning his coats found their way into both the military – for officers’ coats during the Crimean War and the siege of Sebastopol – and an outdoorsy upper-class wardrobe. By the late 19th century the firm was supplying coats to the British royal family. The company’s signature waterproof garment was perfected during World War I when Aquascutum, like Burberry, developed and supplied the army with belted, double-breasted coats, featuring military details such as epaulettes and cuff straps, for officers in the trenches. The design of the lightweight, practical and effortlessly stylish Aquascutum trench coat, which was further developed during World War II when they were donned by Royal Air Force aviators, remains remarkably unchanged to this day. Classic models and new interpretations continue to influence both its men’s and women’s lines, providing an anchor for the company’s brand recognition. In the early 20th century Aquascutum branched into women’s clothing, emphasizing notions of solidity and good taste while continually re-inventing its fabrics and design processes. Most notably it launched a water repellent coating that stood up to repeated dry cleanings, called Aqua 5, which was prominently featured in the company’s advertising in the 1960s. Fashionable accents included bold new colors, luxurious linings, fur trimmings and distinctive patterns, such as the company’s patented Club Check, introduced in the 1970s.
The company names Michael Herz head designer for women’s wear.
150th anniversary of the founding of Aquascutum. To celebrate the event, Aquascutum holds a major fashion show in Florence at the Palazzo Corsini, the first such event organized by the company in five years. In January, Nervesa, holder of the Aquascutum license for Italy, shows pieces from the Aquasport line by Aquascutum in a new show room on Corso Venezia in Milan. The company introduces a limited edition of “Heritage Coats” reflecting its century-and-a-half long history of outerwear, and the firm’s accessories line is expanded, resulting in a nearly 70% increase in the sales of belts and other leather objects at year’s end.
Japanese designer Junya Watanabe is commissioned to re-edit pieces from the Aquascutum archives, which are sold in limited edition in the London store only. Also this year, the flagship store at 100 Regent Street, London, which has been in the same location since 1901, is thoroughly redesigned in the spirit of a Regency townhouse. Aquascutum Collection, the new younger line of the brand, also designed by Michael Herz and Graeme Fidler, joins the more classic Aquascutum London line.