In celebration of its 160th anniversary, Burberry has released a new holiday campaign. which, in the form of a three-minute cinematic trailer, tells the story of the brand’s founder, Thomas Burberry, who invented gabardine, the weatherproof fabric found on Burberry’s iconic trench coats. Titled The Tale of Thomas Burberry, the video stars Sienna Miller, Domhnall Gleeson, Dominic West, and Lily James, the face of Burberry’s fragrance campaigns, and was directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker and four-time BAFTA winner Asif Kapadia.
“The film we have made is a brief glimpse inspired by [Thomas Burberry’s] full and extraordinary life, which threaded its way through the history of the 20th century in all its tumultuous highs and lows,” Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey said in a statement.
Set in the 1800s and shot mainly—and fittingly—at a castle in Oxfordshire, England, the film is essentially an homage to pivotal moments in Burberry’s life that molded and shaped the brand’s history, with nods to polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and record-setting pilot Betty Kirby-Green.
“The story of the film is about how an ordinary man brought something extraordinary into the world,” said Matt Charman, who wrote the film. “[Gabardine] changed what was possible for some people to do, in terms of going to far off places, places that the human body could not endure without something to protect you. It was a product that could do lots of things, it could help people like Shackleton go to the Antarctic, it could help aviators do incredible flights over long distances—it allowed people to dream and to carry out their dreams, and Thomas Burberry made that happen.”
Burberry has been known for its creative campaigns—in August, it released a series of ads inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, and in May, there were those cartoon sketches by Luke Edward Hall, which appeared alongside Mario Testino photographs and reflected the brand's new see-now, buy-now strategy. And while the innovative efforts of its ads and retail strategy are certainly forward-thinking, it's nice to see the brand going back to its roots and embracing its history in a modern way. After all, the reputation is really what the Burberry customer is buying when they shell out their hard-earned cash for a trench or an umbrella. And it's not just Burberry who's moving forward by looking back. Dior, for instance, hosted a lavish Resort show in London to celebrate its founder's relationship with the city. Furthermore, for her Spring 2017 debut, Maria Grazia Chiuri brought back the iconic bee emblem. Meanwhile, at Balenciaga's Spring 2017 show, Demna Gvasalia borrowed sparkling brooches from the archives of Cristóbal Balenciaga, reminding everyone that while his aesthetic may at times seem extreme, it's firmly planted in what made the house so great in the first place. Newness is great, but heritage is forever—and if you've got it, flaunt it.