“War, huh, what is it good for?” asked Mr Edwin Starr in 1970 at the height of the Vietnam War. Coats, it turns out, is the answer he probably wasn’t expecting. Of the many items to find their way into civilian life off the back of combat use – the internet, GPS, superglue – the average man’s wardrobe is indebted to the theatre of operations, as in war zone, rather than operating theatre, although do take a note of the footwear adopted by the staff next time you’re in a hospital because those brave men and women spend most of their lives on their feet, so their shoes are bound to be comfy. Possibly pay less attention, though, to what those treading the boards in an actual theatre are wearing on their feet, which may vary depending on the production. They also go to great lengths in the name of their art, but we digress.
It’s hard to think of a men’s coat that hasn’t at some point been in military service. Maybe not up there with locating and dispatching an errant colonel in Cambodia or rescuing an official and his aide who are held hostage by insurgents in a South American jungle while being stalked by a trophy-collecting alien with a cloaking device, but, phew, it’s tough.
Obviously, there are designers whose outerwear, like any high-ranking officer with enough sense or cowardice, is as far removed from the battlefield as possible. Burberry, for example, might have made a name for itself providing gabardine trench coats during WWI, but you probably wouldn’t want to don one of Mr Riccardo Tisci’s modern-day logoed-up iterations when there’s an enemy sniper nearby.