Thursday, 10 December 2009

Fashion democracy?

Christopher Bailey, named Designer of the Year at this year's British Fashion Awards made a thought provoking statement in an interview printed in AnOtherMan's Autumn/Winter Issue.

Was it a remark about the use of fur in fashion or the Size Zero debate? No. He stated that the trench coat, made iconic by Burberry, was the most democratic item of clothing. As Creative Director of the brand, he explained that this factor matched with the numerous design options of epaulets, belts, buckles and linings have created a item of clothing without a shelf life.

My love of Burberry reached epic heights when I got my hands on a polished wool trench coat in a sample sale several years ago. This addition to my wardrobe had a lasting effect. So much so, that it truly is my only possession worth running into a burning house for aside from loved ones (!) What struck me about Bailey's comment was the idea of democracy in fashion. Fashion was originally the vice of affluence, for people who had money to spend for fun. As the price of clothing has dropped and our expendable incomes soared, fashion has become the British public's favourite vice.

The Burberry trench coat was first created by Thomas Burberry the inventor of gabardine fabric who submitted a design for an army officer's rain coat to the War Office in 1901. With the technological advances of the 100 years since Burberry's first designs allowing for experimentation, the trench coat has been reproduced season after season. Yet for the trench coat to be democratic it needs to be accessible by all of society surely? Although Bailey's designs may not be affordable for all, his influence on the high street has lead to the encorporation of trench coats into the high street each spring.

So when the weather starts to improve as Spring approaches, consider not only the classic tailoring of its design but what the trench coat may really stand for: fashion democracy.

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