Monty & the Duffle

As I am hoping to include the most classic of coat shapes, the dapper duffle, in my launch collection I thought you might like a potted history of Paddington’s favourite attire. 

A long frock hooded coat with toggles is seen in the Polish military in the 1820’s which may have influenced the design of British classic. In 1887 John Partridge, an outwear specialist, designed and sold a toggle closure overcoat. This looked somewhat different to the ones we know today as it was shorter and roomier but had the characteristic toggle fastenings.  A few years later this was adapted by the British Navy to protect their servicemen against the inclement weather at sea. They were then worn on military ships all round the world.

At this point the duffle was a large one-size-fits-all so that one could be worn by any sailor over other clothing and also have the maneuverability needed for ship work. The toggle closures were used to make the coat easy to fasten with cold, wet or gloved hands. The two piece hood was cut loose to pull over a woolly hat or cap and the cloth used was generally a heavy course wool which was water repellent.

It became most popular during world war 2 thanks to General Montgomery, allied commander of the British forces, who created a signature look worn with a beret at a jaunty angle – hence it’s pet name the ‘Monty’,  As the coat saw more service at sea,  design changes were made to suit the sailors and their working lives. These included shoulder yokes, throat tabs on the front of the hood and a cross over front, thus becoming the style we recognise today. 

​Army surplus duffel coats and fabric were sold on by the Ministry of Defence in 1951 to wholesalers Harold and Freda Morris who sold them to camping and leisure wear shops. This was such a huge success with the general public that H&M Morris set up the company Gloverall to produce and sell duffle coats alongside other outerwear. Gloverall still make duffle coats today which are loved around the world particularly by the Japanese.

​In the 1960’s these army surplus duffles were snapped up cheaply by students, artists and intellectuals, most notably the poet Jean Cocteau, and became the staple garment of the counterculture movement. Paddington bear first appeared in the duffle coat in 1958 and it has been a favourite of children ever since.

​#DuffleCoat #Monty #Paddington

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