Everything You Need to Know About Burberry's Iconic Trench Coat

David Abrahams

Here's the story behind the wardrobe staple that Burberry pioneered—and the never-before-seen colors you need it in.

The trench coat is at the heart of everything we do,” says Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative and executive officer. “When I was a teenager in Yorkshire, I bought a classic trench from a jumble sale and I still have it. It’s sentimental now because of where I have ended up.” Herewith, a brief history of the coat, which was first known as a Tielocken in the early 1900s—pictured here. The London essential has transcended its military origins to become a worldwide wardrobe staple.

Name
Patented by Thomas Burberry in 1912 as the Tielocken, the term trench coat came about when British soldiers wore the coat in the trenches of World War I.

Craft
All of Burberry’s trenches are still made in Northern England, where workers spend a year just learning how to stitch the signature notched collar.

Design
The original Tielocken featured a belt but was button-free. The classic (and insulating) double-breasted construction provided protection “from throat to knees,” claimed a 1916 ad.

Fabric
Gabardine, a weatherproof cotton twill pioneered by Burberry in 1879, was revolutionary for being both lightweight and durable.

Lining
The iconic check lining wasn’t introduced until the 1920s. Today, it’s carefully placed so the checks align at a 45-degree angle.

Color
For more than 100 years, Burberry’s classic gabardine trench has only ever been available in tan or black. However, starting this fall, the heritage style also comes in red and navy.

From $1,795; burberry.com.