When hearing of a Great British clothing line, renowned for trench coats and signature checks, perhaps your mind might instinctively land upon, well let’s face it, the obvious choice is Burberry. However this might be understandable as the equally classically British brand Aquascutum with its signature Vicuna Club Check has unfortunately suffered some turbulence throughout the financial troubles of recent years. To put things simply, the home-grown company has suffered losses, been sold, gone into bankruptcy administration and then been sold again. This time however, Aquascutum was passed not to a large Chinese company but to a British owner, who reinvented the original factory in Northamptonshire and perhaps this marked a turning point and the start of an Aquascutum resurrection.
In order to truly appreciate Aquascutum clothing, it seems essential to take a look back at the heritage of this Great British clothing house. So let’s go right back to the beginning, to London’s Regent Street in the year 1851 (note that this is five years prior to the establishment of Burberry in 1856!) when tailor John Emary first opened a shop and began to sell his men’s clothing. It was two years later in 1853 that Emary developed a new fabric technology, creating a water resistant textile and hence the brand name Aquascutum was coined, literally translated as ‘water shield’ from the Latin words aqua (water) and scutum (shield).
The fantastic new water-resistant and breathable Aquascutum raincoats were soon noticed by the elite of the era, with King Edward VII himself owning a coat in a Prince Of Wales Check. Such was his majesty’s approval that Aquascutum received a royal warrant in 1857 and a women’s range followed in 1900. Of course this recognition and expansion was well deserved, anybody with any experience of British weather can comprehend how appreciative the king and his populace must have been with the arrival of water-repellent outerwear!
Word of Aquascutum’s functionality and popularity spread, with the clothing line creating waterproof jackets for groups including soldiers fighting in the Crimean, First and Second World Wars and also becoming popular with the Suffragettes. Individuals known to have worn Aquascutum clothing include politician Winston Churchill and actor Michael Caine. What we might recognise here is that the brand radiates a stylish image of power and success whilst remaining practical and easy to wear, even continuing to develop and bring out new technologies such as wind resistant fabrics hailed by the first explorers to climb Mount Everest.
Today, having also had to fight for success, the brand remains a true British classic remaining true to the practicality and stylishness of its original designs with its signature Aquascutum Club Check. See the following links for the latest available Aquascutum t-shirts, shirts, jackets and accessories available to buy online at Mainline Menswear.
Written by Lucy Jackson