Who Invented the Duffle Coat with Hood? Facts About the Duffle Coat

The duffle coat has been around for well over a century, and for good reason.  This classic outerwear staple has stood the test of time and been worn by both men and women alike. It is one of the most recognizable items of clothing all across the world. The duffle coat with hood has a fascinating history that spans many decades. Below, we will discuss what a duffle coat is, the history of the duffle coat with hood, and some interesting facts about it.

What is a Duffle Coat?

A duffle coat, also known as a duffel coat, is a coat that is made from the material duffle.  Duffle is a thick, coarse, woolen material that was created in a town named Duffel in Belgium. This fabric was also used to make the original duffle bags that are still popular today. In addition to this thick, durable fabric, the coat also traditionally had a hood and fasteners with toggles. These toggle fasteners were created so that they could be easily opened and closed while wearing gloves.

Because of its popularity, there are many different variations of the duffle coat.  A true duffle coat features genuine, double weave, woolen duffel fabric that is lined on the inside.  It typically has three or four wooden toggles on the front that close with a loop and leather fasteners. Additionally, two large, rectangular, patch pockets are on the outside, sometimes with covering flaps on the top.  Originally, the coat was created at a knee length size, however later versions were shorter as well. This classic coat is topped off with a large bucket hood that covers

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The History of the Duffle Coat

The exact origins of the duffle coat are not entirely clear, but it was thought to have been found in the Duffle region in Belgium where the material for the coat was created. The first mass produced duffle coats are credited to be made by John Partridge in the 1850s.  John Partridge was a successful manufacturer of outerwear at the time, and the coat became wildly popular throughout most of Europe. This first duffle coat was much roomier than the ones that are produced today.

By the 1890s it was so popular that it was supplied to the British Royal navy in a camel color, becoming an iconic image for seamen during World War I. This military duffle coat had a few modifications, like a longer length and more room for uniforms underneath.  It was also referred to as a “convoy coat.” During World War II it was also widely distributed, not just to the navy, and was commonly referred to as the “Monty coat.”

Once the war was over, a large surplus of duffle coats was available.  These coats were offered to many western clothing distributors, and made their way to British civilians where they grew in popularity for their usefulness, durability, and style. In the 1950s and 1960s it was popular among students.

In 1954, the firm Gloverall purchased these post-war duffle coats in large quantities and began to produce their own, more refined version. This version of the duffle coat was more fitted, with leather fastenings, buffalo horn toggles, and a double-faced check lining. It also had a more stylish pancake hood instead of a huge bucket hood. Gloverall scaled down the large size of the front pockets for a more clean look for their duffle.  They also chose a fabric that was slightly less bulky than duffle.  They made this decision so that the coat was more comfortable for civilians to wear, and so that it was marketable to both men and women.

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Once a completely civilian duffle coat was made that was more wearable for the general public, this style of coat exploded in popularity all over the world.  Young and old, celebrity or not, the duffle coat was found across multiple classes and continents as well.  One of the most famous appearances of the duffle coat is from the iconic Paddington Bear, a fictional bear who was created in 1958 by writer Michael Bond. David Bowie famously wore a duffle coat in his 1976 movie, “The Man Who Fell to Earth.”  Evidence of the popularity of the duffle coat can be found all through pop culture for decades.

The Duffle Coat Today

Today, the duffle coat is no longer commonly made of the duffle material.  Instead, it is typically made of Melton cloth.  Melton cloth is made of wool and is woven in a twill form.  It is a very thick fabric, like duffle, but has a felt-like smoothness to it. The density of this fabric means that it does not fray or pill easily, or even at all. Melton cloth wears well against wind and weather, keeping its wearers warm and dry.

If you were interested in purchasing your own duffle coat today, it would be easy to find.  A traditional and high quality duffle coat, however?  Not as much.  The duffle coat has been mass produced by most clothing companies, so you can easily find some derivative of the original coat in most major clothing stores or department stores for men, women, and even children. One of these mass produced versions can be found for relatively reasonable prices for outerwear, although you won’t be getting the high quality that was offered from the original duffle.

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If a more original and traditional duffle is what you are after, you are in luck-if you are willing to pay a pretty penny.  The most authentic duffle you can get today is still made by Gloverall.  They still produce their original duffle coat with refined and modern touches.  Their Original Monty Duffle Coat is made from fine Italian wool with beautiful herringbone detail on the interior.  It has reinforced shoulders, large front pockets, and, of course, the classic wooden toggles with jute rope loops. This knee length coat is offered in many different colors, and in styles for both men and women.  Currently, the coat costs a little less than $700.  While the price is steep, you will be getting a high quality jacket in a classic style that will be fashionable for life.