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Item of the week: the contemporary trench

By Rachel Douglass


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(From left) Image: A Line, Ted Baker, United Colors of Benetton

What it is:

The trench is a classic silhouette that will likely always remain a staple in the outerwear category, however, recent iterations of the coat have seen it take on new forms, in modernised structuring that have flipped what we know about the style upside down. While many designers have reinterpreted the trench in their own way, experimenting with the look has also begun making its way into the high street, as more and more retailers introduce their version of the contemporary trench. Designs can include everything from oversized lapels to alternative fastenings and adjustable shaping, each bringing a new meaning to the well-known style, moving it further away from its utilitarian origins and giving it a new life for the next generation of shopper.

Image: Michael Kors

Why you’ll want it:

The trench coat is an outerwear silhouette that is a firm wardrobe staple and will continue to return on a seasonal basis, albeit with fresh updates and new twists. As a classic garment, the coat style is a one that resonates with both an older and younger buyer group, who each have their own take on the look. The traditional version of the trench is a one that regularly returns to the high street, providing an outerwear option for every season. This style of trench is likely to never wane in popularity, as it cemented its place as the choice of outerwear for decades. Meanwhile, the contemporary trench trend has likely come about as Gen Z continues to revamp past styles and look for new ways to translate the look into their own sense of fashion. This new version of the trend has given the style a modernised face lift, making it more attractive to the younger generation and giving an alternative, fashion-forward option to play with.

Image: Scotch & Soda

Where we’ve seen it:

As expected, Burberry didn’t stray far away from the trench, a design that holds a strong place in the British brand’s heritage. While the coat was present in its most recent AW22 collection, complete with heavy gold embellishments, it was also a part of its pre-fall collection made in collaboration with Brazilian model Lea T. Her take on the trench involved deconstruction and bringing together contrasting materials to create a patchwork look with layered elements. Fendi also took on the trend in its menswear collection, presenting oversized, cape-like trenches with clean-cut tailoring. Taking a more alternative approach, Y/Project has offered up a series of discombobulated coat styles, some with mismatched cuttings and others with various exaggerated details. Leather looks for the brand’s AW22 line involved heavy gathering to disform the typical silhouette, further enhancing the modern take.

Image: Dorothee Schumacher

How to style it:

The trench is essentially a standalone outerwear piece that can be the statement in itself or can align with other stand-out pieces to bring an outfit together. A simple look for casual daywear can include pairing the coat with denim jeans, a sweatshirt and sneakers or low-heeled ankle boots, for a simple outfit that puts an emphasis purely on the coat itself. An elevated version of the casual look could involve the use of a leather skirt and loose fitted shirt, complete with tights and knee high boots. The trench coat can additionally function as a formalwear piece, with the potential to pair perfectly with fitted two-piece suit combos and tailored garments. In a more alternative route, the trench can also often be used as a standalone item. If the style comes with a belt option and is quite lightweight, fasten the garment up and tie the belt in a neat bow to create an alternative to the dress.

Image: Fassbender

The trench coat is a classic silhouette that will always hold a place in fashion. It is a seasonless style which gives the wearer the ability to either layer up or sport a breezy outerwear piece, making it a great investment item to add to just about any shopper’s wardrobe. Its current modernisation comes down to younger generations looking to twist up classic trends into ones that fit their contemporary fashion outlook, which means, when approaching the trench, there is more to play with.

Image: Helene Galwas

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Item of the Week