The first basic umbrella was invented a very long time ago, about over four thousand years ago. The first evidence of umbrellas came from the Egypt, Assyria, Greece, China artifacts and ancient art.
At first these ancient umbrellas or more likely parasols were designed to provide shade from the sun. The first country which waterproof their umbrellas for use as rain protection was Chinese.
What the term "Umbrella" means?
Word "umbra" from the Latin root means shade or shadow.
In the 16th Century the umbrella became very popular to the western world, especially in the rainy weather of northern Europe (UK, Ireland, Estonia, Poland). At first the umbrella was considered only an accessory suitable for girls and womens. But later, Persian traveler and writer Jonas Hanway proved that umbrella suits for gentelmans too. He carried and used an umbrella publicly in England for 30 years which clearly showed that can be used by mens too. After this Hanway experiment, English gentelman often reffered to their umbrellas as a "Hanway".
James Smith and Sons
The very first umbrella shop was called "James Smith and Sons". The shop opened in 1830 and after 180 years it's still located at 53 New Oxford Streen in London (England).
Those Umbrellas in the shop were made of wood or whalebone and covered with alpaca or oiled canvas.
After 22 year in about 1852 Samuel Fox, a manufacturer of women’s corsets, had lots of steel corset ribs left over and came up with the idea of using them for umbrellas. He also a founder of "English Steels Company".
When in comes to design, the basic umbrella design has stayed mostly the same for thousands of years. And today it looks just much more modern.