I have a strong affinity towards the trench coat. It is a garment that I want, but one that I have no personal relationship with. There is no other garment, that I can think of, that fit the climate of the scandinavian spring or fall better than the trench coat. They are also stylish, masculine and versatile. Still I have to admit that I find the ladies adoption of the trench coat to have ruined it. It is about time we take it back.
Thomas Burberry started developing the trench coat as early as 1879 when he invented the gabardine fabric. Gabardine is a tightly woven cotton fabric. The compact structure is almost waterproof and gabardine revolutionised rainwear. Finally a comfortable and light raincoat was available.
Before this innovation, fabrics were waxed or rubberised to repel water, making them heavy, stiff and uncomfortable to wear for long periods. Gabardine was made from yarn woven in a compact twill construction with over 100 interlaced threads per centimetre. The microscopic open spaces in the weave allowed ventilation, while the compact structure prevented rain from permeating the fabric. For extra protection, the cloth was then triple proofed, creating a lightweight, highly weatherproof and breathable garment.
It was during the first World War that the trench coat became a concept. In reality the trench coat is a rain coat with shoulder straps for epaulettes and a belt with D-rings on for attaching tools. The coat was used by both british and french armed forces during the war. Thomas Burberry patented his design during the first war in 1912, but it is said that he sent his first design for an officer’s coat to be approved by the United Kingdom War Office in 1901. Burberry added to the shoulder straps and tool belt with innovative design for the time. The back on a Burberry trench coat is designed for allowing ease of movement. The back pleat was constructed to expand when running or on horseback. Covering the upper back a storm shield was added to ensure that water ran cleanly off the coat and kept the wearer dry.
Originally created to protect officers from wind and rain, the Burberry trench coat has evolved over 100 years to become an icon. Representing timeless British style and design innovation it has been copied over and over. No one has come close to the original. The Burberry trench coat is a true classic.
Burberry trench coats are made in Castleford, a town in the north of England, by expert workers who combine traditional techniques with modern technological developments.
Today gabardine is created using many of the traditional techniques that originally set it apart from other fabrics, alongside new, modern finishing processes that make it more water-repellent than ever before. From raw materials to finishing, every step in its production is carefully considered. The cotton is chosen for the fineness and length of its fibres, which give a clean surface texture and enhanced strength. This is then spun into yarn, which itself is super-strong and durable, created from two fine yarns twisted together in a process known as doubling. The colour of Burberry gabardine is strictly controlled and must be signed off by experts at the mill. After final approval, the fabric undergoes finishing and is checked twice more by eye to ensure the cloth is flawless.
It takes approximately three weeks to make each coat. Over 100 highly skilled processes must be completed, each one to ensure the quality and unique appearance for which the Burberry trench coat is known.
The most intricate of these production processes is the stitching of the collar, which is unique to Burberry trench coats. It takes up to a year to learn to stitch the collar alone, using a method that is part of Burberry design heritage. The craftsman hand-places 4.5 tiny stitches per cm (11.5/inch) along the length of the collar to create a fluid curve, ensuring it sits perfectly on the neck.
It is still the lining that I link to Burberry. Each coat is lined with the iconic Burberry check which is made up of a signature combination of camel, ivory, red and black. The checked pattern is a badge of origin since the 1920s. Each lining is carefully cut and placed to ensure the check design is symmetrical and unbroken. The undercollar lining features a bias positioning, with the lines of the check meeting at exactly 45 degrees.
Find more info on Burberry.com