Burberrys became trendy two years ago, when its famous 'Burberry check' was adopted by trendy young people. But the story behind Burberrys, and especially its trenchcoat, is steeped in history. Burberry gabardine weatherproofs (Thomas Burberry invented gabardine in the 1870s) were sanctioned by the War Office as standard issue among officers at the turn of the century. With the outbreak of the First World War, they were adapted for trench warfare (hence the name) - the "D" rings were added for attaching grenades at the front and a sword at the back. Half a million Burberry trenchcoats were worn by combatant officers between 1914-18. When the men came home, they brought their trenchcoats with them and thus they became part of civilian life. The Burberry has made its appearance in a host of films - Warren Beatty wore one as Dick Tracy, and on the set of The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Peter Sellers kept two Burberrys on hand in case one got ruined. Little has changed in its design or quality in 90 years. You're not just buying a coat, you're buying history. AB

The Burberry Trenchcoat, shown here in showerproof gabardine, pounds 625. From chest size 80cm-120cm, length 112cm-122cm. Various colours/ fabrics/ linings available, and Burberrys will also work to commission. Burberrys, 165 Regent Street, London W1, tel: 0171-734 4060.