Friday, 5 December 2014

The Return of the duffle ( duffel ) coat .

A duffle coat, or more correctly duffell coat, is a coat made from duffel, a coarse, thick, woollen material. The name derives from Duffel, a town in the province of Antwerp in Belgium where the material originates. Duffle bags were originally made from the same material. Although the material is named after the town Duffle, it is commonly believed that the Duffle family (later changed to Duffel or Duffell) are responsible for the spread of the garment, a notion which, despite being debatable, is contested by few mainstream regional academics.

The duffle coat owes its popularity to the British Royal Navy, who issued a camel-coloured variant of it as an item of warm clothing during World War I. The design of the coat was modified slightly and widely issued during World War II and made by "Original Montgomery", the oldest surviving company chosen by the British Admiralty in the early 1890`s to make the first duffle coats. In the Navy, it was referred to as a "convoy coat".Field Marshal Montgomery was a famous wearer of the coat, as a means of identifying himself with his troops, leading to another nickname, "Monty coat".

Large stocks of post-war military surplus coats available at reasonable prices to the general public meant that these coats became a ubiquitous and popular item of clothing in the 1950s and 1960s. The British firm Gloverall purchased surplus military supply of coats after World War II and in 1954 started producing their own version of the Duffle coat. They have continued to make the Monty ever since and still do. Gloverall made in the 50's what is known as today's Duffle by using leather fastenings and Buffalo horn toggles with a double-faced check back fabric. Every Duffle coat you see today in that configuration is a copy of that original made by Gloverall.

The first design template is received from the Admiralty (Royal Navy) to create a universal utility garment for all ranks to share when at sea. The Ideal Clothing Company makes duffels for first time.

Expedition to Antarctica is the first recorded use by Royal Navy marines of the duffel as an official part of the uniform,Duffel development is confirmed as a semi double breasted design with asymmetric closing held together with wooden toggles and sitting at mid thigh length.

Duffel development is confirmed as a semi double breasted design with asymmetric closing held together with wooden toggles and sitting at mid thigh length.Duffels now in wide use across the Royal Navy.Many officers in the British Army swap their great coats for the less formal duffel and the use of the duffel

Duffels in use on motor torpedo boats as well as destroyers.Fabric is now mainly made in Yorkshire after protests by local politicians. Submariners issued with duffels which prove unsuitable in the extremely confined spaces and a lighter version of the original blazer (so called because either they were red or they were first used on HMS Blazer) is made instead

In the First World War becomes a talking point of great note as officers had never been allowed to wear such a `rough all ranks` item of clothing before. Young officer called Bernard Law Montgomery champions the idea of copying the Royal Navy idea of a universal utility garment and he takes to wearing his duffel at all times Deliveries of unofficial duffels to the British Amy begin.

Duffels still not recognized as proper attire but are in increasing use amongst younger go ahead officer types. New design is longer, double breasted but still closed with wooden toggles and held on with rope tapes Outbreak of World War 2 and Montgomery is quickly promoted to run the Africa campaign- he is always photographed in his by now instantly recognizable duffel

SAS first formed as a specials operation unit behind Rommels lines- standard kit is duffel coat,Following mass demobilisation of Army and Navy personnel over a million duffel coats are returned to military stores Military

Flood Europe with surplus duffels and they become the choice of poor intellectuals everywhere. First duffel made with horn toggles as a fashion item ,Duffel sits alongside US parka as a statement of anti establishment rebellion,Viscount Montgomery of Alamein dies.

Ideal Clothing Company, part of Tibbett plc, changes name to Montgomery as a celebration of 100 years after Montgomery's birth.

Paddington fashion; THE HISTORY OF... DUFFEL COATS

TO BE trendy this season you need only sport a decorative hood attached to your coat or top, yet the best-looking hoods around can be found on that most classic of coat shapes: the duffel coat.
Fashioned with big pockets, check lining and the ubiquitous toggles, this knee-length coat was created for the British Royal Navy in the Second World War to protect its men against the biting winds of the Atlantic and North Sea. The design evolved from the need for practicality and the original duffel had a very roomy cut that allowed it to be worn over another coat. The big hood was designed to fit over the officers' peaked naval caps and the use of toggle fastenings instead of buttons meant the coats could be fastened and unfastened while wearing thick gloves.

The word "duffel" originally referred to a heavy woollen cloth, similar to that which was used to make the coats, manufactured in the Belgian town of Duffel. After the War, civilians began wearing army surplus duffel coats and, in 1953, British company Gloverall started manufacturing a commercial men's duffel coat. Women wore the smaller sizes of the men's coat until the late Sixties, when duffel coats cut specifically for women arrived on the market.

Duffel coats are worn across the world and are particularly popular with the Japanese - 40 per cent of Gloverall's market is in Japan. Well- known manufacturers of the duffel coat include Burberry and Aquascutum, as well as Gloverall, whose customers can be split into two main camps: the older customer who shops at a gentleman's outfitters and the young and trendy whose influences come out of the music scene - Liam Gallagher famously wears one. A cashmere Aquascutum duffel coat features in the January '99 issue of FHM and duffel coats are now being made for all seasons with neoprene, nylon, elysian and cashmere versions all available.

Duffel coats are always popular with children and perhaps the most famous owner of a duffel coat is Paddington Bear, who first sported one in Michael Bond's book A Bear Called Paddington published in 1958.

Susannah Conway

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