The duffle coats continuing resurgence was there for all to see on the autumn/winter 2011 runways. It was endorsed on the catwalks by the likes of Burberry, Bottega Veneta, Paul Smith, Acne and Balmain – quite a list of premium fashion houses.
The duffle coat is a fine piece that is draped in history and military influences. It was initially worn by Belgian fisherman but gained popularity with the general population after it was issued to the British Royal Navy during World War I and II – where they were used to protect against the extreme cold and wind of the Atlantic and North Sea. After the war, many of the duffle coats worn by the Navy were made available for purchase to civilians through army surplus stores, selling extremely well due to the link to the heroes that had protected and fought for our country.
The duffle coats initially created for the Navy were built for practicality; they were cut large so they could fit another waterproof or jacket underneath (for added warmth), had large hoods attached in order to fit over peaked Naval caps, and the coat was fastened by with toggles so they could be easily done up/undone whilst wearing thick gloves.
Of course, modern day duffle coats still retain that sought after practicality through their thick (often wool) construction – meaning you will stay warm and dry all the way through winter and into the spring showers. They are now cut a lot slimmer – such is the move toward a sharper silhouette – but they have retained the utilitarian feel with practical deep pockets and toggles which can still be done up and undone just as easily in gloves.