A trench coat, also written trenchcoat in modern usage, is a heavy duty type of outdoor garment. Originally designed for soldiers fighting in trench warfare in World War I, it is usually made from gabardine fabric of wool or heavy duty cotton, but in modern times leather trench coats have become popular as well. Trench coats became a popular fashion item after the 1960s, and found prominence amongst punk rockers and goths in the 1980s. Nowadays, the trench coat transcends all societal barriers and is popular amongst almost all levels of society due to its functional qualities.
Trench coats are typically of long length, to below the knee, and of double-breasted design. Features include cuff straps and shoulder straps, and a belt. As a nod to its military style it may also include gunflaps, epaulettes, and belted cuffs.
Thomas Burberry designed the predecessor of the trench coat, the Tielocken, in 1895 and this design was used by British soldiers in the Boer War. To meet new military requirements, Burberry modified this design in 1914 to include epaulettes and D-rings, creating the now recognisable trench coat style.
In contemporary fashion the trench coat may now vary in length and material, however due to its typical function as an outdoor garment, if the outer fabric is lighter because of fashion trends an inner lining will usually provide extra warmth.
In popular culture
The trench coat has been associated with spies and detectives since World War II. Trench coats stirred a controversy and moral panic following the Columbine High School Massacre, because the perpetrators of the massacre wore trench coat during the crime.