If there’s one style of outerwear that’s dominated the men’s fashion scene over the past few seasons, it’s the duffel coat. And if there’s one label that’s synonymous with this warm, durable style, it’s Gloverall. The Northampton-based brand comes by the association quite naturally.
Back in the First and Second World Wars, the duffel coat was an essential top layer for battle-hardened British sailors, thanks to its hardy, heavyweight wool (originally hailing from the Belgian town of Duffel) and signature toggle closures, which were easy to open and close with heavy gloves on — or if a sailor fell into the drink and needed to shed the heavy layer quickly. Following WWII, the British defense ministry found itself with a surplus of duffels, and in 1951 it reached out to Harold and Freda Morris, who owned a company that sold gloves and overalls (hence the name “Gloverall”), to buy the coats, which quickly became popular because of their quality, price, and association with the troops. The duffels became so popular that by 1954 the surplus was gone. Seeing an opportunity, Harold enlisted his master-tailor father (convenient, right?) to help create Gloverall’s own version of the coat with a more structured fit, leather toggle fastenings, and a tartan-pattern lining. They named their most famous style, the Monty, after British war hero Field Marshal Montgomery, who used the original duffel as a way to be recognized by his troops.
Gloverall has since been worn by everyone from Bing Crosby to John Wayne to beatniks to Black Panthers, and has benefited from the recent explosion of interest in heritage brands, forging collabos with the likes of Fred Perry, J. Crew, and YMC, among others. In 2011 the brand celebrated its 60th anniversary by releasing a new collection of its classic duffel with sharper cuts, more breathable fabrics, and a shorter length — all while keeping true to the original with details like wooden toggles, leather straps, bucket hoods, and double thick shoulders. Which means you get all of the functionality, plus the cool factor, without having to mop the decks of a battle cruiser.