Aquascutum - the fashion retailer that clothed Crimean officers


The quintessential British clothes retailer Aquascutum was founded in 1851 by tailor John Emary.

Its name is derived from the two Latin words "aqua", meaning water, and "scutum", meaning shield.

Mr Emary developed tailored waterproof clothing and patented the first chemically treated waterproof fabric in 1853.

The material was used to create raincoats which were widely used by British army officers during the Crimean war to withstand the harsh Russian winter.

Aquascutum's early successes were honoured with the freedom of the City of London in 1853.

By the end of the 19th century Aquascutum overcoats were being worn by members of the royal family, including the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, who, in 1897, granted Aquascutum its first Royal Warrant.

In 1900, Aquascutum opened a womenswear department but it was the onset of the First World War which was to make the Aquascutum trench coats more distinctive.

Most overcoats supplied to the military were not lined, but Aquascutum manufactured the trench coat which featured a new invention: the removable, buttoned-in cotton lining.

This helped to solve the problem of mud and rain, which clung to the coats of British officers.

Aquascutum has gone on to clothe many members of the British royal family, including Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and politicians such as Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.

Explorer Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing even conquered Mount Everest for the first time in 1953 wearing Aquascutum's Wyncol D711 fabric to protect them against the sleet and snow.

Hollywood stars who have chosen the brand include Sophia Loren, Greta Garbo, Sean Connery, Cary Grant, Pierce Brosnan and Humphrey Bogart. The 1978 film The Pink Panther Strikes Again, starred Peter Sellers in an Aquascutum coat.

In the 1980s Aquascutum expanded into the United States of America, Canada, France, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Seoul and Singapore.

Aquascutum was chosen to supply the official uniforms for the Great British Olympic team for two consecutive years, the Winter Olympic Games in 1994 in Lillehammer and again for the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996.

The brand was bought by Japanese conglomerate Renown in 1990 but it was sold to Jaeger's owner Harold Tillman and its chief executive Belinda Earl in 2009.

The company continued to make significant losses despite their efforts to turn it around.