The Burberry Trench Coat: History Of An Iconic Staple


Burberry founder Thomas Burberry is often credited with creating the trench coat. How exactly did the iconic fashion staple get its start? The history may surprise you. Burberry first created the water and wind proof fabric called gabardine in 1879. Using this fabric, Burberry would design the first predecessor to the trench coat. Later, the coat sold in the 1890s was perfect for field sports and soldiers during World War I. The khaki color and lightweight gabardine fabric would prove essential for soldiers in the trenches—hence the name trench coat. After the war, it became a fashion statement for men and women alike thanks to movie stars who wore the iconic coat on film.



A traditional Burberry trench coat is long, hitting the ankles or calves and features epaulettes, storm flaps, buckles and metal D-rings. Historically, ten buttons decorate the coat with five on each side. These hallmark accents are still seen on the Burberry coat even today. In the 1920s, the iconic Burberry check in red and beige started to line the coat.



In 2001, Christopher Bailey took over as the Burberry creative director. In previous years, the British brand had lost what once made it so special with knock-offs and copy cats. With Bailey’s new vision, he brought the brand into the modern age while still respecting the brand’s heritage. Streamlined silhouettes and luxe fabrications like leather and lace made the brand cool once again, and by introducing the Prorsum line, brought a fashion forward look to the company. Now, the Burberry trench can be regularly seen on the likes of Cara Delevingne, Suki Waterhouse and Kate Moss.


Kate Moss wears trench coat in Burberry 1999 f/w campaign. (Photo: Mario Testino)


Kate Moss wears trench coat in Burberry 2005 f/w campaign. (Photo: Mario Testino)


Gemma Ward stars in Burberry spring-summer 2006 campaign wearing a trench coat dress. (Photo: Mario Testino)


Models wears Burberry trench coats in f/w 2014 campaign. The sleek and slim silhouette differs from its roots. (Photo: Mario Testino)


A trench coat from Burberry’s resort 2015 collection features a gradient print effect.


Cara Delevingne wears a metallic version of the Burberry trench coat in 2012


Naomi Campbell & Jourdan Dunn wear the Burberry trench coat in bold colors for the brand’s spring-summer 2015 campaign. (Photo: Mario Testino)