SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEWSLETTER

Browse all

History and evolution of the Trench coat

From military clothing to cinema, all you need to know about the timeless spring outerwear

History and evolution of the Trench coat From military clothing to cinema, all you need to know about the timeless spring outerwear

Iconic and undisputed symbol of English elegance and culture, but also an essential piece of French style, the trench coat is the outerwear that seduced Hollywood and gave life to hundreds of infinitely chic and fascinating characters, from Marilyn Monroe in Let's Make Love to Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, from Sophia Loren in The Key to Meryl Streep in Kramer vs. Kramer, from Alain Delon in Le Samuraï to Brad Pitt in Ocean's Twelve.

 

The history of Trench coat

Its history, however, does not begin in Hollywood, and although over the years it has managed to seduce the imagination of entire generations, the trench coat is a garment whose origin dates back to the early nineteenth century. It must be said that as early as 1615 the Spaniards had learned to use latex to make waterproof fabrics and, even earlier, in 1496 it was Christopher Columbus who brought back natural rubber balls from the West Indies. It was then in the early nineteenth century that Thomas Hancock - an English inventor - founded the British rubber industry and later, Charles Macintosh - a Scottish chemist - while looking for a way to use the waste products of the coal gasification process, discovered that the distillate obtained from the tar was able to dissolve the rubber. Macintosh thus thought of applying the loose rubber on a woolen cloth and then coupling the latter with another cloth, obtaining the waterproofing of that flap and patenting its own water-repellent fabric in 1823 and then making it a garment: the Mack, designed for a man whose days included horseback riding, fishing, and outdoor pursuits.

 

The rise of Burberry

Later in 1853, John Emary - a Mayfair tailor - thanks to the evolution of technology and the development of more breathable rubber coatings, produced an improved raincoat, which he gave his company name, Aquascutum, and a few years later in 1856, Thomas Burberry - a Hampshire tailor - founded his namesake company by inventing Burberry's gabardine fabric in 1879, which is the most resistant and breathable fabric used for outerwear.

The trench coat is nothing more than the evolution of discoveries and technological advances and, although the story has it that both Aquascutum and Burberry wanted to take credit for inventing it, in reality they did nothing but popularize and improve something existing. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Burberry received the order from the English state to produce a military outerwear for the army that was also waterproof, thus the World War I trench coat was born, double-breasted, narrower at the waist and flared at the bottom with the hem below the knee, named after a tailoring magazine in 1916 with a term reminiscent of muddy trenches. The cuffs were tight, the belt had D-shaped rings to attach accessories, the cape on the back was used to slide the water, the buttons at the neck could be closed and protect from poisonous gas, the pockets were deep and the lining removable interior to be used - if necessary - as a blanket. The iconic color was immediately honey, but during the war years it was produced in khaki to favor camouflage.

Military clothing has always been an infinite source of inspiration for fashion, just think of the fact that there are very important archives dedicated only to these garments. The trench coat went from a symbol of war officers to a true trend, destined to become iconic and timeless. Probably Hollywood played a fundamental role in this, fictionalizing stories of soldiers, spies and detectives, making the coat of English origin synonymous with style. Obviously, as often happens, the Burberry and Aquascutum trench coats were very expensive and accessible to few people, but cheaper versions began to circulate immediately, which made the garment even more popular and desired.

 

Trench today

Ecco poi i trench coat imperdibili di questa stagione.

Today the trench coat is an outerwear that in every season is reinterpreted by designers from all over the world, using different fabrics and often losing their technical characteristics, but giving it a charm of its own. My favorite? The black leather one worn by Catherine Deneuve in Belle du Jour, designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1967.

Then here are the best trench coats of this season.

SAINT LAURENT

SAINT LAURENT

SAINT LAURENT

SAINT LAURENT

MAX MARA

MAX MARA

THE ROW

THE ROW

BURBERRY

BURBERRY

REDVALENTINO

REDVALENTINO

REDVALENTINO

REDVALENTINO

CELINE

CELINE