The Burberry Trench: a history & a rather good buy

I love my Burberry trench!

I have wanted a Burberry trench coat for what seams like forever. I have had many trench coats in the past but always hankered after a Burberry one. I just loved the history of it and the assurance that this would be a coat to last a life time. I was also very particular in the exact features I wanted the coat to have, after experiencing not so perfect trenches. My trench needed to be the soft tan colour and not the lighter beige, long past my knees, fitted, especially on the shoulders, but with room for a light sweater under, with check lining. I had long given up on trying to find a vintage one, as many had 80’s shoulders, which really wasn’t what I wanted. I would always check ones glimpsed in vintage shops but again never found the right one, many are in such bad condition too. I decided to stop looking at vintage and save up for a modern one, when I found this by chance!!

The trench coat was born after Thomas Burberry in 1914 was commissioned by the War Office to adapt the standard officers coat, making it more suitable for all weather conditions. After the war ended many officers kept their coats, as they were so well made and practical sparking an interest in the coats from civilians. The trench coats were made from a special fabric created by Thomas Burberry called Gabardine, wool treated chemically to repel rain. Gabardine is also tear proof, virtually uncreasable, and still remains breathable for comfort. The term ‘trench’ coat comes from the coat being worn in the trenches of WW1 to keep the soldiers as dry and comfortable as possible.

Many of the original features of the WW1 trench coat are retained in the modern coats produced today. Such as the double breast with 4 (later 10) buttons, the gun flap on the shoulder was to add reinforcement, straps on the sleeves to keep the rain out, slotted pockets, adaptable collar with strap and the waist belt with D rings to attach paraphernalia such as grenades in the war and later game when hunting.

Audrey Hepburn tests out the trench’s waterproof qualities

The coats were first lined in wool with the Novacheck being introduced in 1924.

Check out my lining! Also wearing Vivienne Westwood erm everything

The Novacheck is one of Burberry’s most recognisable brand features however in the UK the print become associated with everything as far away from traditional Burberry as you can imagine. During the 90s the check became the notorious ‘look’ of the chavs (i.e hoodlums, football hooligans, general unclassy trouble causers). Burberry actually laugh this off, mainly due to the fact the items the chavs were wearing were not in fact Burberry but counterfeits or look-a-likes.

Daniella Westbrook a la Chav

With the appointment of Christopher Baily as creative director in 2001 (chief creative director since 2009) and a new advertising campaign featuring top models such as Kate Moss and actresses like Emma Watson, the brand has certainly shook off any bad image. With live streaming of the runway shows, and innovative instant shopping from the runway Burberry is at the forefront of cutting edge fashion.

However the great British brand dealt its country a blow with the closure of its Treorchy factory in 2007. Saying the factory was no longer financially viable and moving production to China and Hong Kong – despite announcing a 22% rise in profits earlier in the year. This meant that 310 jobs were lost. To me one of the beautiful things about the brand is it history, originating in Britain and built up over the years. I love to buy clothes with a heritage, it is part of the allure. So I fully support the petition to remove Burberry’s royal warrant if they move any more jobs off shore.

In fact the whole ‘Made in’ topic is something I want to discuss further in another post. Anyway this was one of the reasons I wanted a vintage trench, made in Britain not cut in China, assembled in Hong Kong and just a few buttons sewn on in Britain! I have to admit I was a bit disappointed to see my boots I had bought from Burberry last year were stamped ‘made in Italy’.

But anyway, I have my trench and am damn well pleased with it!


17 thoughts on “The Burberry Trench: a history & a rather good buy

  1. Hi my dear-the Burberry trench is an awesome find and looks so stylish and lovely on, well done indeed!! xx

  2. I remember that excellent BBC2 series about vintage tailoring and was fascinated by the origins of the Burberry Trench.
    You look absolutely gorgeous in yours, well worth the outlay.
    Did you spot the dad in Friday's episode of Benidorm sporting a dodgy tee shirt with Nova check panels? xxx

  3. @ Vix – ha ha I did!! If you google image search 'burberry chav' there are some hilarious photos, one of a car painted in it!!

  4. I really enjoyed this post with the history behind the trench. It is really worrying that our country is losing our heritage by letting businesses move their operations outside the UK. My husband worked at TVR, a car firm based in Blackpool that no longer exists. A skilled workforce and a British product just simply gone, its very sad times indeed. xx

  5. I really enjoyed reading this and learning about the history. It's something i've never thought to read about, even though I love Burberry trench coats. Glad you found your dream coat! x

  6. Love a good trench, a Burberry is a classic find, I have a cream and black trench that comes out to play every season

    Sleekit x

  7. This is forever! How you must have felt when you first tried it on! Looks great on you and will never go out of style. I like the length on you – the trend for 3/4 length is nice but you have to think about what you've got on under. This will go beautifully over Everything! Well done!

  8. What an amazing find! I always have it on the back of my mind when I go thrifting but so far I haven't been very lucky. I've been close but usually the coats I find are too big for me 🙁 And thank you for the history lesson! 😉

  9. Looks fab I nearly bought one off a shop on ebay the other week but decided not to – I agree you need the proper Burberry made in Britain heritage to really love it!! xx

  10. Yay! Well done for tracking down your dream trench. It looks cracking on you and I really enjoyed reading about its history.

  11. Loved the history lesson on Thomas Burberry and the trench coat. You look stellar in it, dear.

  12. Pingback: Outfit: Super Nature | Fashion Pearls of Wisdom

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