The Burberry trench coat is a fashion icon – a piece of clothing that emulates style with no compromise to its functionality or warmth. Worn by everyone from Kate Moss on the catwalk in the late 1990’s to Humphrey Bogart in the all-time cinema-classic Casablanca, the trench coat is a mark of class and sophistication for every decade.
The roots of the trench coat, designed by Thomas Burberry in 1901, is all in the name. The coat was made for WWI military officers serving in the trenches. Every detail of the iconic design we see today was specifically constructed for purpose in the battlefield. The Burberry was also ground breaking for its newly patented material called ‘gabardine’ which was specifically woven to make the piece of clothing waterproof yet lightweight and durable. The trench coat was an optional item which became available to officers in all the British Armed Forces to purchase; no other ranks were permitted to wear them.
New Zealand military forces were also able to order the Burberry coats for officers during both WWI and WWII. A Burberry manufacturer was set up in Wellington to accommodate this. However, as time went on, this style of coat was modified and became a general raincoat available to all ranks, although still known colloquially as a ‘Burberry’. This style is still available to the Navy today but is slowly being phased out as the coats are mainly used for cold climates (all ranks) and senior officers.
– Hannah Fotheringham