This British staple is the epitome of reinvention and may never reach a finished state, continually refining in design on a seasonal basis.
Which season this coat belongs to also changes with each revival. It doesn’t matter whether we are in autumn, spring, summer or winter; the trench is always appropriate, and with our UK weather of "four seasons in one day", this is the one coat any self-respecting man or woman simply can’t afford to be without.
The tench-coat dates back to rather confusing beginnings, where its invention has been claimed by both Burberry and Aquascutum. The latter date their claim back to 1850s, whilst Thomas Burberry apparently submitted his design and patented the ‘secret ingredient’ fabric - gabardine - in 1879.
During the first World War, the design was developed for the British and French soldiers to be worn as an alternative to the heavy serge greatcoats. Purely practical in design, the shoulder D-rings held grenades, but it was the revolutionary waterproof fabric that gave the coat its name, as it protected soldiers from the harsh conditions of the trenches. Style simply didn’t come into it. These very soldiers returned from the war, wore the coats at their leisure (as it was likely the only one they had), and unknown to them propelled the trench into the the hall of sartorial fame.
Nowadays, trench coats are worn by all, and they are unisex. They come in all shapes, colours, fabrics and styles, and with it’s clean and linear silhouette, is a favourite amongst all of us. Identifiable as business-like, but also a sure sign of the more stylishly inclined, the style of the trench is smart, and works with most looks and ages; it can be worn over a smart suit for business sophistication, belted over trousers jeans or little dresses for a the more trendy and urbane, or thrown over the shoulder for the ultimate in traveller chic.
Unlike most other trends, the trench is not a fad. So surprising it is not that in time for Spring 2012, designers have unveiled some stunning variations of the this quintessential item. Inventors Burberry and Aquascutum continue to produce classic and vintage trench collections, whilst fashion designers like Salvatore Ferragamo offer their colourful interpretations. Even the high street have jumped on the bandwagon, with French Connection and Reiss draping an impressive array of trench-inspired jackets on their coat rails. Whatever variation floats your boat, one thing is for sure: given its humble beginnings, the trench has managed to outlast every coat trend, and has won over every new generation.