Fashion Fact #7

The trench coat was invented for soldiers.

But most of us knew that, the word “trench” is a bit of a giveaway. The interesting debate around the invention of the trench coat is which brand is responsible? Burberry and Aquascutum both claim to have “invented” the trench coat, however Aquascutum’s design dates back to 1850, whereas Burberry’s first trench was in 1901.

trench coat, Burberry, Aquascutum, World War I, soldiers, trench wars

Burberry trench coats.

Anyway, this is Fashion FACTS, not Fashion Speculation, so let’s get down to what we know. Thomas Burberry invented gabardine in 1880, the fabric used to construct most trench coats. Gabardine is very tightly woven fabric, and therefore repels rain (remember, the trench coat is actually a rain coat, not just a fashion item!) Gabardine is breathable, lightweight, and doesn’t crease easily. Soldiers wore trench coats, made by both by Burberry and Acquascutum, over their uniforms in World War I; the shoulder straps were for insignia and rumour has it that the D rings were used to attach hand grenades.

“The classic World War I-era trench coat was double-breasted, with four buttons, reinforced shoulder or gun flaps, straps at its sleeves, a buckled all-around belt (with distinctive brass “D” rings designed to hold one’s water bottle, hand grenades, or sword), slotted pockets, and an adaptable collar. It was typically lined with wool.” –Fashion Encyclopedia

It wasn’t until after the war that the trench coat began being worn by civilians.

One last fact for the Burberry lovers out there: the check lining was added to the trench coat in 1920.

Have you seen the new trench coat selection at Ellos are a brand new retailer who specialise in Scandinavian minimalist style.

Read more Fashion Facts:
Fashion Fact #1 Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent went to the same fashion design school
Fashion Fact #2 Donna Karan invented the bodysuit
Fashion Fact #3 Halston pioneered the concept of a brand ambassador in fashion
Fashion Fact #4 Charles Worth was the first fashion designer
Fashion Fact # 5 The first celebrity-inspired clothing came out in the 30?s
Fashion Fact # 6 Salvatore Ferragamo invented the cork wedge

Resources: Fashion Encyclopedia, Burberry, Wikipedia.

  • Nomadic D

    Thanks for the fun facts! Always good to get a mini fashion history lesson.

  • Chelsea Rae

    Is it wrong that my inner 7-year-old boy got really excited at the possibility of strapping fake grenades to my trench. I’m only a 22-year-old girl…no biggie!

  • Anonymous

    Which brand made that grenade accessory to hang off a handbag? I tried to
    find an image, but couldn’t remember the brand name… You could get one of
    those. But be careful if you travel, I remember a high profile department
    store buyer being detained at an airport because of her “grenade.”

  • Qmapparel

    Great post! They were primarily issued to Officers in the trenches. The Trench coats were issued to British troops and then later American officers saw how popular they were with their British allies that they started purchasing them on breaks from the front.

    The trench coat also saw action in WWII with both American and British officers.

    – Alex

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the additional facts!