The Burberry fashion house was founded in 1856 in Basingstoke in Hampshire, UK, by Thomas Burberry, who was at the time an apprentice draper. As a specialist in outdoor sportswear, the designer quickly established a wealthy clientele who devoted themselves to hunting and fishing. The company developed rapidly and in 1870, Thomas Burberry hired more than 80 people. Ten years later the designer invented gabardine, after a fruitless search for an alternative to rubber, which was the only waterproof material known at the time. The material's success as a lighter and more comfortable alternative to rubber, allowed the Burberrys line (the “s” had not yet been dropped at the time) to open a new studio on London's Haymarket Street, in 1891.
Ten years later the Minister of Defense put Thomas Burberry in charge of creating new uniforms for the officers of the British Army. Thomas Burberry then invented the Tielocken, a water resistant coat in gabardine that is considered the ancestor of today’s trench coat. In the same year, the British label got a new logo, as the Equestrian Knight appeared as the label’s trademark. It contained the Latin word Prorsum, meaning forwards, which would later become the name of the brand's diffusion line. At the beginning of the First World War, the administration of the British Army called upon Thomas Burberry to create a new version of the Tielocken. The designer invented a coat equipped with belt rings from which the wearer could hang grenades, maps and flasks; straps on the shoulders to secure a satchel, binoculars and gas mask; and large flaps on the chest designated to protect the heart: a coat designed for the trenches, or the "trench coat".