Aquascutum – Luxury British Heritage Label
Experts in Weather-Proof Clothing since 1851
View Aquascutum Fashion collections on London Fashion Review Blog
An Introduction to the Aquascutum Designer Brand
Aquascutum Collection for the Spring/Summer 2011 Season
In 1851, Mayfair tailor John Emary opened an upmarket menswear store on London’s Regent Street. John’s aim of was to introduce the latest innovations in menswear, particularly weather proofing of outerwear. His big innovation came just a few years later in 1853 when he managed to develop and patent a shower-proof textile. To landmark his new innovation, Emary changed the name of his company and Regent Street store to Aquascutum, from the Latin ‘aqua’ meaning water and ‘scutum’ meaning shield. The rain-repellent clothing, known affectionately as the ‘Aquascutum Wrapper’ became instantly popular and soon many Victorian men were walking the rainy streets of Mayfair in Aquascutum outfits.
In the late 1870’s, John Emary left Regent Street and the brand, and Scantlebury & Commin acquired the Aquascutum label. Under Scantlebury & Commin, the brand moved to new premises at 100 Regent Street, and Aquascutum became renowned for their weather-proof and comfortable country clothing. By the end of the 19th century, Aquascutum was being worn by some of the country’s most influential people. in the prestigious reputation was cemented when in 1897, Aquascutum was awarded its first Royal Warrant by the Prince of Wales (who would later become King Edward VII).
For almost half a century, the Aquascutum brand had catered solely for the menswear market, but with women leading more active lives in the late 19th century Aquascutum started designing women’s weather-proof outerwear and suits. Over 110 years later, Aquascutum still produces luxury weather proof outerwear and country clothing for both men and women in their British factory in Corby using quality traditional craftsmanship.
As of 2011, Aquascutum is a truly international brand with stores and stockists throughout the globe. These include flagship stores in Tokyo and London as well as being stocked within some of the worlds finest stores including Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and Harrods.
Changing Times- The Aquascutum Flagship Store on London’s Regent Street
Aquascutum – A Timeline Snapshot
- 1851: London tailor John Emary, opened an upmarket store on Regent Street with the aim on introducing the latest menswear innovations.
- 1853: John Emary developed and patented a shower-proof fabric and changed to name of his Regent Street store to Aquascutum. The instant success of the rain-repellent ‘Aquascutum Wrapper’ was honoured with the Freedom of the City of London. Additionally, during the Crimean War (1853-1856) British Army Officers wore weather-proof Aquascutum raincoats to help them withstand the harsh Russian winters.
- Late 1870s: John Emary and his son John Ledbury Emary, left the brand and Scantlebury & Commin acquired the Aquascutum label.
- 1897: Aquascutum was granted its first of many Royal Warrants by King Edward VII (he was Prince of Wales at the time).
- 1900: The brand added a womenswear collection to their product line, to cater for the more active woman on the late 19th/Early 20th century.
- 1903: Aquascutum received its second Royal Warrant by The Prince of Wales, who awarded the brand with a further Royal Warrant of Appointment as King George V in 2011.
- 1909: The first Aquascutum factory opens in Kettering.
- 1914-1919: During the First World War, Aquascutum contributed to the war effort by creating a rain-proof, double breasted and belted coat to be worn by soldiers in the trenches, soon to become known as the trench coat.
- 1924: The Aquascutum brand gained its first overseas presence with a Japanese Trademark.
- 1932: The brand was acquired by Isidore Abrahams, who was later succeeded by his two sons Sir Charles and Gerald M. Abrahams.
- 1939-1945: Aquascutum once again contributed to the war effort during the Second World War creating weather-proof outerwear for every branch of the armed forces.
- 1951: Aquascutum celebrated 100 years in business with a special anniversary collection.
- 1952: The Queen Mother grants Aquascutum with the Royal Warrant. It wasn’t for the first time, she also granted the brand with a Royal Warrant in 1947.
- 1959: The innovative ‘Aqua 5’ was launched to worldwide acclaim. The ‘Aqua 5′, involved the ingenious process of impregnating cotton for rainwear, eliminating the need for re-proofing.
- 1966: Aquascutum was honoured with the Queens Award for Export Achievement to acknowledge the brand’s increased presence overseas. Also this year, Gerald M. Abrahams, Aquascutum’s President was awarded with a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to fashion.
- 1971: The brand once again received The Queens Award for Export Achievement, which it would receive two more times during the 1970’s in 1976 and 1979.
- 1976: The brand celebrated its 125 year anniversary with an exclusive feature in Vogue magazine. Also this year, the now infamous ‘Club Check’ print was introduced into the menswear ranges.
- 1982: Aquascutum was presented with the Grant of Arms by His Grace the Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal of England in recognition of the brand’s prestigious reputation and long heritage.
- 1980’s: During the 1980’s, Aquascutum launched a full range of womenswear as well as an accessories line featuring the brand’s Club Check. The decade was a period of international expansion with further Aquascutum stores opening in the USA, Canada, France, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Seoul and Singapore.
- 1990: The brand moves its factory operations to a new, modern factory in Tilbrook, Milton Keynes, which was opened by HRH The Princess Royal.
- 1994: Aquascutum was chosen to supply the official uniforms for Great Britain’s Winter Olympic Team. The honour was bestowed on the brand once again two years later in 1996, to provide the Olympic Team uniforms for the summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.
- 2000: Michael Herz, joins Aquascutum as womenswear designer.
- 2003: The brand opens a flagship store in Tokyo’s exclusive Marunouchi district.
- 2004: Aquascutum re-launches its eponymous raincoat room at the Regent Street flagship store.
- 2006: Aquascutum hired Kim Winser, formerly of Pringle of Scotland as Chief Executive to revitalize the brand. Winser brought about a period of overseas expansion increasing Aquascutum’s international profile.
- 2007: The brand launches its bespoke tailoring service for women – At this point, Aquascutum had been offering bespoke services to its male clientele for over 150 years.
- 2009: Harold Tilman, owner of British label Jaeger and chairman of the British Fashion Council, acquired Aquascutum for an undisclosed sum from Japanese clothes makers Renown. As part of the deal, the Asian rights to the brand were purchased by Hong Kong’s YGM Trading, which is already the Aquascutum licensee in China and Hong Kong. Tilman, announced that the running of Aquascutum would go to Jaeger Chief Executive, Belinda Earl and stated that he believed she would have no problem in running both brands simultaneously. Also this year, Aquascutum shows its collections at London Fashion Week for the first time.
- 2010: Aquascutum launches its e-commerce site in an effort to boost sales, which features clothing and accessories as well as the premium collection that is shown at London Fashion Week.
- 2011: Aquascutum makes a return to the catwalks of London Fashion Week with the debut collection of new Design Director, Joanna Sykes, who succeeded Michael Herz in the role. Her collection for Autumn/Winter 2011, English Icons, featured sheer silks, diamond appliqués, herringbone tweed in a contemporary version of stylish country living.
Aquascutum: Power Dressing
Soon after the brands inception, Aquascutum had garnered the attention of London’s aristocracy, soon to be followed by some of the countries most influential people. Throughout the brand’s 160 year heritage, Aquascutum garments have been a popular choice for many a British politician and royalty. King Edward VII and the HRH the Queen mother both honoured the brand with several Royal Warrants, and Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher were also fans of the brand. Several members of Hollywood royalty past and present have also been fans of the brand further increasing its profile. Celebrity fans include Peter Sellers, Greta Garbo, Sean Connery, Sophia Loren, Cary Grant Humphrey Bogart and Pierce Brosnan.
Famous Wearers of the Aquascutum Brand
The Aquascutum brand has even climbed the heights of Mount Everest, with Sir Edmund Hilary and sherpa Tenzing wearing Aquascutum fabric to protect themselves against the harsh conditions during their history-making ascent.
Future of the Aquascutum Brand
Aquascutum Collection for the Spring/Summer 2011 Season
Harold Tillman, Chairman of the British Fashion Council and owner of Jaeger and Aquascutum announced in February of 2011 that Jaeger may be put up for sale after being approached by several potential buyers. Tillman brought in the investment bank, Rothschild & Sons to consider Jaeger’s options; including an outright sale in a deal that could value the clothing-store chain at as much as £100 million.
Rumours circulated about the buy-out potential, and soon interested parties were also approaching Tillman about Aquascutum. Interested parties include private equity firms, family businesses and funds from Asia, the US and Europe. In May 2011, Tillman announced that he felt no pressure to sell either of the brands, but also said ‘never say never’ when asked if he would be tempted to accept an offer in the £100 million range. Currently Tillman is not looking for a deal to sell his two heritage brands, Jaeger and Aquascutum, as both brands are benefiting from the increased global demand for luxury products, led by Chinese shoppers and international travellers.
For the Autumn 2011 season, Aquascutum’s orders were up by almost 100% after a critically acclaimed debut collection from Design Director, Joanna Sykes. Additionally, the brand was attracting strong interest in its recently added golf wear range.
“I am comfortable that the year  we’re in is going to be probably the first year in its [Aquascutum] very long history of being at least break even, perhaps even a small profit,”
The future of Aquascutum remains up in the air, although with a rich British history, expect the brand to continue to operate in the UK and throughout the globe.
Aquascutum Womenswear Collection for the Spring/Summer 2011 Season
Visit the official Aquascutum website here