The Gloverall duffle coat has been a British staple for decades, worn by film stars and fashion designers, athletes and recording artists. The coat achieved notoriety during the 1950s and ‘60s, when the post-war surplus was updated to a slimmer, more flattering shape for both men and women. Undeniably stylish, this high-quality, practical coat is instantly recognisable.
Here are twelve times that the duffle coat stepped into the limelight.
One of the first times that the Gloverall duffle coat was featured on screen was in the 1953 war film The Cruel Sea, where lead actor Jack Hawkins wore the Navy coat during the Battle of the Atlantic. More a documentary tribute to valour than a cinematic blockbuster, the authenticity of the duffle coat was important to the film’s creators. The duffle coat, therefore, became associated with those ideals: courage, perseverance and, finally, victory. Hawkins’ character, with his rugged handsomeness and seaman’s masculinity, also impacted the coat’s reception, as it became an attractive image of uniform resistance.
Source: The Fedora Lounge // Jack Hawkins as Lieutenant-Commander George Ericson in The Cruel Sea (1953).
Iconic French actress Brigitte Bardot turned the military surplus into post-war chic with her use of the duffle coat. Often seen in casual wear, and huge jeans and a tee fan, Bardot challenged conventional fashion stereotypes, quickly becoming a rebel with style inspired by the Beat generation. One of the most photographed women in the late ‘50s and ‘60s, Bardot moved away from structured couture gowns to simple, inexpensive clothing made from worthy, organic materials that could be worn with the seasons. The duffle coat, seen here in perhaps Bardot’s most successful film, emphasises her refusal to be artificially dressed up and thus subscribe to an image that she doesn’t believe in.
With his first appearance in 1958’s A Bear Called Paddington, written by children's author Michael Bond, the lovable Paddington Bear has become the quintessential part of British culture. A mischievous anthropomorphised bear, young Paddington arrives from Peru with only a honey-holding suitcase, an old red hat and, of course, a classic blue duffle coat. Paddington loved the coat (given to him by the Browns) so much that he never took it off – without his beloved duffle, we’re not sure we’d recognise him.
Source: NY Times // Paddington Bear from Michael Bond’s illustrated books.
Filmstar Michael Wilding was born in Essex, began work as an actor during the 1930s and reached peak popularity a decade later. His biggest films included Piccadilly Incident (1946), The Courtneys of Curzon Street (1947), Spring in Park Lane (1948) and Maytime in Mayfair (1949). Wilding is most famous for his marriage to classic cinema icon Elizabeth Taylor. The 1950s were an important time for Gloverall, when they began to turn the duffle coat aesthetic into an infamous fashion brand.
Source: Gloverall // Michael Wilding with wife Elizabeth Taylor in 1952.
Acclaimed director, Stanley Kubrick was also a huge fan of the Gloverall duffle coat, said to have kept one on set in case of weather-related changes. Famous for films such as Spartacus (1960), A Clockwork Orange (1971) and The Shining (1980), to name but a few, Kubrick was one of the most influential directors of the twentieth century and his body of work is consists of important cinematic classics. The duffle coat was a simple, British staple that may have attracted Kubrick not only due to its Mod connotations but because its loose fit would make it easier in which to direct.
Source: Esquire // Stanley Kubrick behind the scenes.
The cult film The Man Who Fell to Earth stars a young David Bowie as alien Thomas Jerome Newton in a surrealist flick about an alien who succeeded in the American dream (and then abruptly lost it all). A bizarre science-fiction film, Bowie’s impressive performance, alongside a stellar cast and beguilingly scoped cinematography, can be considered more art than cinema. With every detail carefully picked, the duffle coat plays an important role in the film; Newton’s choice to use such a popular, uniform coat marks him as both anonymous within the crowd (helping him to blend in) while also part of ‘in crowd’ at the time that happily rebelled against conventionality and stereotype.
>Source: Telegraph // David Bowie as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
Best-selling record artist Bing Crosby is incredibly well-known, if not for his music then for his acting: he has sold over one billion records and also won an Academy Award for Best Actor. Reaching stardom in the ‘30s to ‘50s, Crosby went on to influence stars such as Frank Sinatra and Dick Haymes. He is most famous for ‘White Christmas’, which made him a worldwide institution. In the 1970s, the Crosby Christmas Special featured him in a duffle coat with his family and was played every year until his death in 1977.
Source: Gloverall // Bing Crosby on the Bing Crosby and Family Christmas Special.
Jayne Torvill & Christopher Dean
Acclaimed figure skaters Jayne Torvill & Christopher Dean are credited with their revolutionary contemporising of the ice dancing sport. The duo achieved worldwide fame when they were awarded perfect scores across the board for their interpretation of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero at the 1984 Winter Olympics. Gloverall’s reputation had reached such heights that it was offered the opportunity to design the coats for the GB Winter Olympic Team especially. Now judges on TV’s Dancing on Ice, having been mentors and trainers for the first nine-year run, the duo is still performing their dazzling and daring ice dance routines.
Source: Gloverall // Olympic Ice Dance skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean wearing the official team uniform.
The lead star of the popular TV series Jonathan Creek, Alan Davies, is a huge fan of the Gloverall brand. Following the antics of a stage magician that also helps solve murders, the show undeniably plays on its integral Britishness. The title character is instantly recognisable not just by his unruly, curly hair but also the iconic hooded coat to vintage effect. Davies auditioned in his duffle and the ensemble became part of the character’s look. Like his onscreen counterpart, Davies insists on wearing only the Gloverall duffle coat.
Source: New Statesman // Alan Davies as the titular character in Jonathan Creek (1997-2004).
Simon Pegg’s paranoid character in the black comedy A Fantastic Fear of Everything is pictured wearing some odd clothing combinations, including a curtain-like flowery dressing gown with a yellow vest and white undies, making his duffle coat scenes almost frighteningly normal. Telling the story of an author of crime fiction that has become terrified of his Victorian serial killer inspiration, deranged writer Jack must now confront those fears when his screenplay looks like it might be greenlit. The camel-coloured duffle coat is a small detail that really underlines the characters attempts to combat his bizarre spiral.
Source: IndieWire // Simon Pegg as Jack in A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012).
Celebrities have always been fans of the original Gloverall duffle coat and stunning icon Alexa Chung is no exception. Host, model, writer and designer, the multi-talented young star has won the British Style Icon award three times running, proving that her distinctive style should definitely be a source of inspiration. Chung’s elegant navy choice is ideal for a smart-casual look, tied together with a polka dot Peter Pan collar blouse and dark slim fit jeans. Comfortable and versatile, the duffle coat is the perfect accessory for that wintery weekend away, stylish in every holiday snap.
Source: Daily Mail // Alexa Chung in a navy blue duffle coat.
Forever famous for his role as the childhood hero in the Harry Potter films, but also an established actor in his own right, Daniel Radcliffe has starred over the last decade in films such as The Woman in Black (2012), Kill Your Darlings (2013) and Imperium (2016). His style is still evolving but with a penchant for the fashionably casual, this is an easy look to replicate. Wearable across the board, the black Gloverall duffle coat is the ultimate autumn-winter staple.
Source: Coolspotters // Daniel Radcliffe in Gloverall.
If you’re looking for jazz up your style this season with a fashion statement that’s made to last, the Gloverall duffle coat is beloved both by history and the style icons of today.