Contemperory styling and new materials has helped re-invent the trench coat as an object of fashion
The trench is not a fashion staple in the Indian’s men’s wardrobe as yet. But with menswear runways burgeoning with a massive resurgence of this very utilitarian garment over the past few seasons, it is a good time to catch on to the trend. One is being spoilt for choice with international brands outdoing each other in a bid to offer updated versions of this century-old over coat.
If current season is anything to go by, deep cerulean blue is the most preferred colour. Boosted by Giorgio Armani’s stylish double-breasted navy trench for SS12, other brands and high street retailers such as Zara have followed suit with their slick navy versions. Possessing the ability to anchor both contrast and monochrome outfits while providing a slimming effect, the colour helps to compartmentalize sections in the outfit that could either blend in together or enhance each other.
Brighter trenches are making more emphatic statements, for example Gucci’s brick red version with black trimmings and BottegaVeneta’s in an eye-popping red. Not necessarily timeless, these colours bring in that extra edge to the outfit and do away with the adage that neutrals are the way to go with the trench. Of course beige and black continue to be unrivalled favourites because of their ability to neutralise all possible colours in a wardrobe and anchor multiple looks guaranteeing ease of wear and overall style.
Advances in fabric technology and reconfigured materials have played a pivotal role in reinforcing a modern aesthetic to this timeless classic. Softer materials have replaced the traditional (and expensive) wool gabardine and with it the characteristic rigid silhouette without compromising on utility and durability.
With Armani setting the ‘lightweight’ movement in motion with his light cotton-blend, transformed trenches that are almost as light as shirts. Sartorial giant ErmenegildoZegna’s perfectly tailored and almost ethereal trenches in washout pastel silks and ultra light leather is another great example. Perfect for those who wish to retain a slim silhouette, the lightweight trench cleans up any amount of layers underneath without adding any extra bulk to the frame and provides for a softer look.
Luxurious fabrics and skins make their presence felt too, with the master of subtle opulence – Gucci, proposing a splendid full length trench in ostrich for its current winter collection, and Burberry reworking another understated double-breasted variation in soft cashmere with trademark leather buckles and logo-engraved buttons. Bringing together technology with menswear classics, Costume National’s black trench this winter is composed of three layers of fabric that is laser-cut to leave a striking rim of red thread as a graphic outline.
Traditionally worn only a few inches off the ground, the contemporary trenches usually range between 35 inches to 45 inches in length. But cropped trenches have become increasingly popular, with many designers now cutting them almost as short as a jacket (Les Hommes, Gucci, H&M etc). In fact the traditional full-length version with its touch of old-school military charm is now among the least preferred version in the commercial market.
The minimalistic single-breasted varieties with deeper necklines and larger, wider lapels and collars are now just as popular as their classic double-breasted counterparts, and are a recurring theme in a number of collections. The minimal look as characterized by the three-button, single-breasted YSL trench, does away with the trademark utilitarian features such as shoulder flaps and epaulettes, keeping it clean and simple. Ideal for men with smaller builds, the single-breasted variety doesn’t make the wearer look dwarfed or buried in excess fabric of a double-breasted coat.
Burberry’s SS12 cotton-linen trench featuring notch lapels, contrast silk sleeve lining to be worn as turn-ups, a waist-defining buckle belt and a single breasted three-button closure, gives a contemporary twist to the old-style shape, while Zara’s stylish cropped and zipped variation is another example of reinvented silhouettes and added elements.
Contemporary styling has further helped the trench make its transition from a gritty, streamlined piece of clothing to a relaxed and casual one. Mostly worn open or with the belt loosely knotted at the back, it creates an informal line and portrays a less structured silhouette while keeping the outfit easy and relaxed even if the items it is paired with are not. This is in sharp contrast to the traditional way of wearing it close and fastened. This quintessentially English garment that nails the combination of functionality with style, has now been entirely re-invented.