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Make way…the duffle coat is back

BY MARK, MENSWEAR, HOME & ELECTRICALS EDITOR ON 19 OCT 2012 10:34 MEN'S FASHIONCOMMENTS

Debenhams' best-selling Mantaray duffle coat & Paddington Bear...in case you were confused

A coat worn by Paddington bear, Sir Winston Churchill, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and made famous by the Royal Navy has become popular once again – the duffle coat is back.

And sales are soaring for the first time in almost 50 years.

The plain, functional, warm material and simple toggles appeal to shoppers and offer comfort in tougher times.

Debenhams’ spokesman Ed Watson said: “Duffle coats are a form of fashion where style meets the Dunkirk spirit.

“They embody so much of the British character – a desire to look good, combined with a gritty determination to carry on.

“This is the biggest boost to duffle coat sales that we’ve seen since Paddington Bear was found wearing one by the Brown family more than 50 years ago.”

Demand for duffle coats has leapt by an incredible 59 per cent in the last two months alone, Debenhams sales figures reveal.

Leading designers such as John Rocha and Jasper Conran have used and adapted the style as the basis of this year’s new winter collections.

More recently, celebrities have adopted the duffle as a coat of choice including; One Direction, Jude Law, Robbie Williams, Alexa Chung, Taylor Swift, Cheryl Cole and Stacey Solomon.

These coats are made from Duffel, hence their name, a thick woven woollen material whose name is derived from the town in Belgium where the weave originated.

Original Duffel coats traditionally have three or four wooden or horn shaped fastenings – sometimes known as walrus teeth – with rope or leather straps.  With two large pockets at the front are covered with flaps.

However, modern variations can have faux fur collars, come in a variety of colours and are often mid-length as well as knee length.

“There’s a rugged individuality about it, a square-jawed symbol of resistance which, for many people, summons up images of Jack Hawkins in The Cruel Sea.

“An anorak may do the job of keeping out the cold weather just as well, but it doesn’t have the same British heritage as a duffle coat,” said Watson.

One of the top selling duffle coats at Debenhams is a men’s Mantaray grey version and a Red Herring red short duffle for women.

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