History of the Trench coat

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History Of The Trench Coat

The trench coat is now synonymous with élan and sophistication, think of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's or Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca! However, it was developed as an alternative to the heavy serge greatcoats worn by British and French soldiers in the First World War by either Burberry or Aquascutum or both, as the two can't come to terms with who did what and when. Despite this little issue with the question of who really invented it, we can date it back to the 1850s. Here's a little bit of history on one of our favourite items!


Thomas Burberry's Invention

Thomas Burberry, first and foremost invented the gabardine fabric in 1901, a method of weaving fabric (either wool or cotton) that makes it rainproof and submitted the design of the first trench coat to the United Kingdom War Office. It soon became an optional item of dress. However, only officers were allowed to wear them. In 1911 gabardine proved its worth in the ultimate real-world test, when Norwegian explorer Mr Roald Amundsen used Burberry equipment to conquer the South Pole.

In 1920 the famous Burberry check, registered as a trademark, was first used to line trench coats - the lining of this coat is in cotton.



During WWI, shoulder straps and d-rings were added, mainly to allow the attachments of epaulettes for rank insignia. Rumour has it that the D-ring was for the attachment of hand grenades. However, the original design was probably more likely to be for map cases.
Thomas Burberry's trench of 1914 original trademarks are: the storm flap, right side only, epaulettes, wrist straps, storm pocket, button-out wool lining in Burberry's iconic Nova check, throat latch, back yoke, D-rings, deep back vent and detachable wool collar.



During the Second World War, officers of the United Kingdom continued to use the trench coat on the battlefield in inclement weather. Other nations also developed trench coat style jackets, notably the United States and Soviet Union, and other armies of continental Europe such as Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland (and are often seen in war zone photographs in the 1939-40 era, even worn by troops on the attack), although as the war progressed, in the field shorter "field jackets" became more popular. A typical trench coat by this period was a ten-buttoned, double-breasted long coat made with tan, khaki, beige, or black fabric. Trench coats often have cuff straps on the raglan sleeves, shoulder straps and a belt. The trench coat was typically worn as a windbreaker or as a rain jacket, and not for protection from the cold in winter or snowy conditions.

Nowadays the signature look is a vibrantly youthful take on classic British style, but there's nothing better than an authentic vintage Burberry's to turn heads in the street. You can wear it for formal occasions, but more importantly you can wear it with your favourite t-shirt and jeans. Why not take a look at our collection of original trench coats for this spring?