BRANDS / SARTORIALEE SELECTS / DUFFLE COAT / GLOVERALL
Portraits William Osborne /// Detail shots: Lee Osborne
I am a sucker for a Made in England label – the slightest hint of a Union Jack has me gushing with pride! Throw in a childhood memory of a pudding-basined me wearing a woollen duffle at primary school, with mittens attached to elastic through the armholes, and you can see where I’m at?
The word Duffle originally referred to a heavy woollen cloth closely woven for warmth and was manufactured, funnily enough, in the Belgian town of Duffel, near Antwerp, a town synonymous with fashion – surely if the Antwerp Six had been around then, Duffle would have been a founder member?
The Duffle, as we know it, is of course a hooded coat with distinctive toggle fastenings, adapted by the British Navy to repell the biting Atlantic and North Sea winds.
As readers of Sartorialee will already know, I have a soft spot for brands with a story to tell. I’m not averse to a military detail or two, and much like my admiration for the M65 field jacket, I’m fascinated by the path the Duffle has trodden from utility to high fashion. Gloverall have certainly woven a rich tapestry for me to wax lyrical about .
The British firm came to prominence having bought up surplus stock of WWII military jackets, producing their own version of the Duffle in 1954 in a small factory behind London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, hence the coat was born to the civilian masses. Boasting leather thong hoops and horn toggle buttons that could easily be unfastened even whilst wearing thick gloves, and bucket hoods that slid easily over peaked caps. It was simply a no brainer for the oft-unpredictable British climate.
The brand name itself is a quirky amalgam of the words gloves and overalls. Brainchild of the original founder of Gloverall Freda Morris. who also penned a beautiful piece of commercial art, (as it was called back then), in her scripted emblem, which has great longevity in its design.
From the social renegades of Greenham Common who wore the duffel as a social statement on CND rallies, to the shoulders of crooning singers Bing Crosby and Perry Como, to Torvill and Dean at the Winter games of Lake Placid in 1980 the coat has seen many incarnations over the years. It has never really gone out of fashion. These days the company are based out of Wellingborough, Northants having outgrown their humble east end abode and now export to over 40 countries.
HOW SARTORIALEE WEARS: THE GLOVERALL MID MONTY
The Mid Monty is Gloverall‘s lightweight version of the original duffle – suitable for spring and summer. I’ve chosen to pair a white piqué polo with a summer knit cardigan from another purveyor of fine British goods, Peter Scott. If I’d dispensed with the cardigan the navy piqué (pictured below far right) would have done the job equally well. The look is offset by my trademark slim cut dark denim jeans and brown suede Chelsea boots. It’s how Sartorialee role’s at weekends in the country.
It can be worn unbuttoned around the neck (as above, left) or raised and press-studded (main picture) if it suddenly gets chilly. While it’s not entirely watertight, it is showerproof, so it would be festival-friendly barring a mud bath scenario at Glasto.
HOW SARTORIALEE WEARS: THE GLOVERALL CAR COAT
As a contrast, I’ve picked out the Car Coat which is a great layerable piece – its timeless design makes it a wardrobe staple and its neutral beige hue means it will team with pretty much anything in your wardrobe. Here I’ve layered the same white pique polo under a rather natty navy and white gingham seersucker blazer, also by Gloverall which straddles the often tricky gap between summer and autumn perfectly. The patriot in me could not resist adding a pop of red, white and blue to the ensemble!