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  • The little black book for the City
    Style — 19 September 2013

    Design Your Own Trench Coat:

    Josh Sims discovers the service that lets you personalise fashion’s most iconic piece of outerwear

    Examine closely the details on a trench coat and, for all that the style may be associated with tough, cynical fictional detectives of the film noir era, one is reminded of its military origins. Most obviously there are the epaulettes, to which one would attach the insignia of rank – the trench coat having been devised for officers to protect their uniforms. Equally distinctive are the throat latch and wrist straps, giving added protection against the elements. There is the D-ring at the waist, on to which ammunition packs could be attached, and the storm flap at the shoulder, there to help rain run away from the body, but also to soften the recoil of a rifle. These are the touches that make a trench coat iconic.

    But perhaps they are also the touches that could be added to, or tweaked, to make a classic more personal? That is the thinking behind Burberry Bespoke, an online system that allows customers to select from nine styles of the trench coat for men, seven for women, and then make changes to various aspects of the coat, including the epaulettes and cuffs, collar, buttons and belt, to add embroidery or change the lining, even to alter the coat’s body or sleeve length for a better fit. In all, Burberry – which, as one of the suppliers of trench coats to the military during World War I, can lay claim to having invented the style – with the Bespoke service offers some 12 million possible variations of the trench. That means that you are extremely unlikely to find yourself sitting next to someone in the same style on the bus. What is better still, one doesn’t have to get into any cold, muddy, rat-infested trench to get it: the coat will be delivered to any address in 46 countries within four to eight weeks, depending on how many changes one has ordered. Burberry: we armchair generals, and we who go out in the rain, salute you.

    Burberry’s bespoke trench service is available at