| Michael Donhauser |
LONDON (dpa) – Humphrey Bogart wore one in the classic movie Casablanca and detective Columbo made one his trademark. It’s time to welcome back the trench coat.
The trench coat first became mass-produced clothing in 1914 when it was issued to British officers in World War I to protect them against wind and weather.
Fashion house Burberry is synonymous with the trench coat and it presented its latest designs at the London Fashion Week recently. Supermodel Kate Moss didn’t miss the show and sat in the front row wearing a black variation of a trench coat. Meanwhile, model Suki Waterhouse sported a very colourfully patterned trench coat to end the show.
Burberry founder Thomas Burberry produced the first design for a trench coat late in the 19th century.
Back in 1870 Burberry had worked with a material that would come to be known as gabardine and which is prized for its waterproof qualities.
A model wears an outfit designed by Burberry Prorsum at the London Fashion Week. Burberry founder Thomas Burberry produced the first design for a trench coat late in the 19th century. In 1870, he worked with a material that would come to be known as gabardine which was prized for its waterproof qualities. PHOTOS: AP
Polar explorers Roald Amundsen, Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott all experimented with the fabric, which keeps rain out but still breathes.
The new coat was meant to keep the wearer dry and warm at the same time. It was put to the most thorough test possible when officers wore it in the trenches of the First World War as an alternative to the bulkier serge greatcoat.
Thomas Burberry added shoulder straps and a self-belt with a D-ring that soldiers could attach equipment to. Straps at the cuffs allowed the wearer to close them tight, while 10 buttons at the front kept the chest warm.
A storm flap at the back helped roll off dripping water. The British Army’s top brass were so impressed with the coat they started placing big orders in 1908.
Kate Moss arrives for the presentation of the Burberry Prorsum collection at the London Fashion Week
The trench coat worn by soldiers in WWI hardly changed its design over the following century. Burberry continues to make its coats in northern England. According to Burberry lore, young tailors had to train for a year before they were let loose on a trench coat. In the 1990s Burberry experienced a slump and the firm came close to folding.
Company boss Angela Ahrendts turned things around and took Burberry back to its roots – making trench coats.
“Since gabardine was invented by Thomas Burberry over 150 years ago outdoor clothing has been at the heart of our business. That remains the case today. You can identify that with our trench coat, which is a fashion icon,” wrote Ahrendts in her last company report before moving to take up a new position at Apple.
Business improved drama-tically with Ahrendts at the helm. Between 2006 and 2013, turnover doubled to about 3.5 billion dollars. Pre-tax profits doubled to nearly 600 million dollars between 2010 and 2013.