THE BURBERRY TRENCH COAT
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A small number of brands can lay claim to the kind of determinedly manly heritage that Burberry possesses. These days the company's extraordinary business success shares top billing with its clothes, but that shouldn't distract one from the fact that its trench coats have an unrivalled history.
The trench coat was made to go to war in. Originally designed in 1895 for British officers fighting in the Boer War, the coat's current form was developed in 1914, for soldiers in WWI. It remains relevant 116 years after it was first designed. Original military features that persist are the epaulettes, throat latch, hook and bar, back rain shield, the D-ring on the belt, the cuff straps and the storm flap on the right shoulder, which can button over the coat's wrap to keep the rain out.
Thomas Burberry, who founded his eponymous company in 1856, conceived gabardine, which is a method of weaving fabric, either wool or cotton, that makes it rainproof. In 1911 gabardine proved its worth in the ultimate real-world test, when Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen used Burberry gear to defeat the South Pole. Three years later Ernest Shackleton, the famous Antarctic explorer, wore Burberry gabardine on his polar expedition, and in 1984 a modern-day explorer, Robert Swan, wore Burberry for his In the Footsteps of Scott expedition.
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. The admiration of trench coats hasn't waned since they were launched. In the 1940s they were still judged as sportswear and were promoted as dog-walking coats, while in the 1960s styles were slimmer and simpler, much as they are now.
The celebrated British artist David Hockney was pairing his trench coat with a polka-dot bow tie. Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales wore his-and-hers coats for public appearances. The company's royal connection, Elizabeth II granted Burberry a royal warrant, had been refreshed in the 1960s when HRH Prince Charles started to wear Burberry coats. He granted the company a royal warrant in 1989.
Burberry's is now a byword for international fashion. Signature looks is a vibrantly youthful take on classic British style, perpetually inspired by the music scene.
Don't be. Become.
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