What Are Trench Coats Made of? 2023 Guide to Materials

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what are trench coats made of

Traditional Materials Used in Trench Coats

Trench coats have a rich history and were originally made from heavy-duty gabardine, a tightly woven fabric that is durable and water-resistant. Gabardine was invented by Thomas Burberry in the late 19th century and became the signature material for trench coats. This fabric was known for its ability to repel rain while still being breathable, making it ideal for protecting soldiers during World War I.

In addition to gabardine, other traditional materials used in trench coat production include wool and cotton. Wool is a natural fiber that provides warmth and insulation, making it suitable for colder climates. Cotton, on the other hand, is lightweight and breathable, making it a popular choice for trench coats worn in milder weather.

Advantages of Traditional Materials:

  • Durability: Traditional materials like gabardine are known for their durability, ensuring that trench coats can withstand regular wear and tear.
  • Weather Resistance: Gabardine’s water-resistant properties make it ideal for protection against rain and wind.
  • Classic Look: The use of traditional materials gives trench coats a timeless and sophisticated appearance.

Disadvantages of Traditional Materials:

  • Weight: Some traditional materials like wool can be heavy, making the trench coat less comfortable to wear in warmer weather or for extended periods.
  • Maintenance: Certain traditional materials may require special care when cleaning or storing to maintain their quality over time.

The Evolution of Trench Coat Materials Over Time

Early Materials

During the early years of trench coat production, the materials used were primarily heavy-duty fabrics such as gabardine and twill. These fabrics were chosen for their durability and ability to withstand harsh weather conditions. The original trench coats were made from waterproofed cotton or wool, providing protection against rain and wind.

Modern Innovations

In recent years, there have been significant advancements in trench coat materials. One notable innovation is the use of synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon. These materials offer enhanced water resistance and breathability compared to traditional fabrics. Additionally, technological advancements have allowed for the development of lightweight yet durable materials that make trench coats more comfortable to wear.

List of Early Trench Coat Materials:

  • Gabardine
  • Twill
  • Cotton
  • Wool

List of Modern Trench Coat Materials:

  • Polyester
  • Nylon
  • Waterproofed Cotton Blends
  • Gore-Tex (a breathable waterproof fabric)

Common Fabrics and Textiles in Modern Trench Coat Production

Cotton Twill

Cotton twill is a popular choice for modern trench coat production due to its durability and versatility. It has a distinctive diagonal weave pattern that adds visual interest to the garment. Cotton twill also offers good breathability, making it suitable for year-round wear.

Polyester Blend

Polyester blends are commonly used in modern trench coats because they provide excellent water resistance while maintaining a lightweight feel. The addition of polyester to the fabric blend enhances durability and reduces wrinkling, making it easier to maintain the coat’s appearance.


Wool-blend fabrics are favored for their warmth and luxurious feel. They provide excellent insulation, making them ideal for colder climates. Wool blends also have natural water-repellent properties, adding an extra layer of protection against the elements.

List of Common Fabrics and Textiles:

  • Cotton Twill
  • Polyester Blend
  • Wool-Blend
  • Microfiber
  • Silk

Advantages of Using Specific Materials in Trench Coat Making

Gore-Tex Fabric

Gore-Tex is a highly regarded material in trench coat manufacturing due to its exceptional waterproofing capabilities. It is a breathable fabric that allows moisture vapor to escape while preventing water from penetrating the garment. This feature ensures comfort and keeps the wearer dry even in heavy rain.

Microfiber Polyester

Microfiber polyester is known for its softness and lightweight nature. It offers excellent wrinkle resistance, making it an ideal choice for travelers who want to maintain a polished look without worrying about creases. Additionally, microfiber polyester has good color retention, ensuring that trench coats made from this material retain their vibrant hues over time.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives

In recent years, there has been a growing demand for eco-friendly materials in trench coat production. Fabrics made from recycled materials or organic fibers are gaining popularity due to their reduced environmental impact. These materials often require less water and energy during production, contributing to sustainability efforts within the fashion industry.

List of Advantages:

  • Exceptional Waterproofing with Gore-Tex Fabric
  • Softness and Lightweight Nature of Microfiber Polyester
  • Eco-Friendly Alternatives for Sustainable Fashion

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Incorporating Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Materials in Trench Coat Manufacturing

The Importance of Sustainability in Fashion

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness about the environmental impact of the fashion industry. As consumers become more conscious of their purchasing choices, there is a demand for eco-friendly and sustainable materials in trench coat manufacturing. These materials are sourced and produced in a way that minimizes harm to the environment, such as using organic or recycled fibers and reducing water and energy consumption during production.

Eco-Friendly Material Options

There are several eco-friendly materials that can be incorporated into trench coat manufacturing. One popular option is organic cotton, which is grown without the use of harmful pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Another sustainable choice is recycled polyester, which is made from post-consumer plastic bottles. Additionally, innovative materials like Tencel, made from sustainably harvested wood pulp, offer a soft and luxurious feel while being environmentally friendly.

Benefits of Using Eco-Friendly Materials

By incorporating eco-friendly materials into trench coat manufacturing, fashion brands can reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future. These materials often have lower water and energy requirements during production compared to traditional fabrics. Furthermore, using organic or recycled fibers can help minimize pollution caused by chemical dyes and treatments commonly used in the textile industry.

Some examples of eco-friendly trench coat brands include Patagonia’s Recycled Down Trench Coat made from recycled polyester and Eileen Fisher’s Organic Cotton Trench Coat.

Ideal Characteristics of Materials for Making Trench Coats

Durability and Longevity

When selecting materials for making trench coats, durability is a key characteristic to consider. Trench coats are designed to withstand various weather conditions and should be able to last for many years without losing their shape or functionality. Fabrics like cotton gabardine, a tightly woven and water-resistant material, are known for their durability and ability to withstand wear and tear.

Comfort and Breathability

Trench coats should not only be durable but also comfortable to wear. Materials that offer breathability, such as natural fibers like cotton or linen, allow air circulation and prevent the wearer from feeling too hot or sweaty. Additionally, fabrics with stretch properties can provide ease of movement and enhance comfort.

Water Resistance

One of the most important characteristics of trench coat materials is their ability to repel water. Traditional trench coats are often made from water-resistant fabrics like cotton gabardine or treated with waterproof coatings. However, advancements in technology have introduced innovative materials like Gore-Tex, which provide superior waterproofing while maintaining breathability.

Some popular trench coat materials known for their ideal characteristics include Burberry’s iconic cotton gabardine and The North Face’s trench coats featuring Gore-Tex technology.

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The Impact of Different Materials on the Look and Feel of Trench Coats

Classic Fabrics

Traditional trench coats are often made from classic fabrics such as cotton gabardine or wool. Cotton gabardine is a tightly woven fabric that provides durability and water resistance, making it ideal for trench coat construction. It has a smooth finish and a crisp drape, giving trench coats a polished and sophisticated look. Wool, on the other hand, offers warmth and insulation while still maintaining breathability. It adds a luxurious feel to trench coats and can be found in various weights to suit different climates.

Modern Synthetic Materials

In recent years, synthetic materials have become popular choices for trench coat production due to their versatility and performance properties. Polyester blends are commonly used as they offer wrinkle resistance, durability, and easy care. They also provide a lightweight option for those who prefer less bulk in their outerwear. Additionally, nylon is often incorporated into trench coat designs for its water repellent qualities, ensuring protection against rain showers.

Considerations for Waterproofing Materials in Trench Coat Selection

When selecting a waterproof trench coat, it is important to consider the materials used in its construction:


  • Gore-Tex is a highly regarded waterproof material that offers excellent breathability.
  • It consists of a membrane with microscopic pores that allow moisture vapor to escape while preventing water droplets from entering.
  • Trench coats made with Gore-Tex provide reliable protection against rain without compromising comfort.

PVC Coating

  • PVC coating is another common waterproofing technique used in trench coats.
  • It involves applying a layer of polyvinyl chloride to the fabric, creating a barrier against water.
  • Trench coats with PVC coating are often more affordable but may lack breathability compared to Gore-Tex options.

Technological Advancements and Material Choices in Contemporary Trench Coat Production

Advancements in technology have allowed for innovative material choices in contemporary trench coat production:

Recycled Materials

In response to sustainability concerns, many fashion brands now incorporate recycled materials into their trench coats. This includes fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles or reclaimed fibers. These eco-friendly options reduce waste and contribute to a more sustainable fashion industry.

Smart Fabrics

Some trench coats now feature smart fabrics that offer additional functionalities. For example, there are coats with built-in heating elements or temperature-regulating properties. These technological advancements enhance the functionality and comfort of trench coats, making them suitable for various weather conditions.

Famous Fashion Houses Known for Innovative Materials in Their Trench Coat Designs

Several renowned fashion houses have gained recognition for their use of innovative materials in their trench coat designs:


  • Burberry is synonymous with the classic trench coat and has been using its signature cotton gabardine since the late 1800s.
  • The brand has also introduced new materials such as technical fabrics that offer enhanced performance features while maintaining the iconic Burberry aesthetic.


  • Balenciaga is known for pushing boundaries in fashion design, including their trench coat creations.
  • The brand experiments with unconventional materials like neoprene or metallic fabrics, creating unique and avant-garde trench coat designs.


  • Prada is celebrated for its innovative approach to materials in trench coat construction.
  • The brand often incorporates high-tech fabrics like nylon or technical blends, resulting in modern and functional trench coats that exude style.

In conclusion, trench coats are typically made of durable and water-resistant materials such as cotton gabardine or polyester blends.

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