A Brief History of the Montgomery Duffle
1860 - 1899
c1860 - The first design template is received from the Admiralty (Royal Navy) to create a universal
utility garment for ranks to share when at sea. The Ideal Clothing Company makes Duffels for the
1890 - Duffel development is confirmed as a semi double breasted design with asymmetric closing
held together with wooden toggles and sitting at mid thigh length.
1893 - Duffel becomes the colloquial name based on the first source of the rough serge fabric used
in manufacture as Duffel is a town in Belgium and is the source of this fabric. The name is
established in the same way as Chino - it was woven into the selvage.
1894 - Duffels are used on motor torpedo boats as well as destroyers.
1900 - 1915
1900 - The Duffel fabric is now mainly made in Yorkshire after protests by local politicians.
1905 - Submariners issued with duffels which prove unsuitable in the extremely confined spaces and
a lighter version of the original blazer (so called because either they were red or they were first used
on HMS Blazer) is made instead.
1911- Duffels now in wide use across the Royal Navy.
1912-1918 - Many officers in the British Army swap their great coats for the less formal duffel and the use of the duffel
in the First World War becomes a talking point of great note as officers had never been allowed to wear such a
'rough all ranks' item of clothing before.
1915 - Young officer called Bernard Law Montgomery champions the idea of copying the Royal Navy idea of a universal utility garment and he takes to wearing his duffel at all times.
1916 - 1945
1920 - Deliveries of unofficial duffels to the British Amy begin.
1930 - Duffels still not recognized as proper attire but are in increasing use amongst younger
go ahead officer types. New design is longer, double breasted but still closed with wooden
toggles and held on with rope tapes.
1939 - Outbreak of World War 2 and Montgomery is quickly promoted to run the Africa
campaign - he is always photographed in his by now instantly recognisable duffel.
1942 - SAS first formed as a specials operation unit behind Rommel's lines- standard kit is the duffel coat.
1945 - Following mass demobilisation of Army and Navy personnel over a million duffel coats are returned to military stores.
1947 - Today
1947-1955 - Military flood Europe with surplus duffels and they become the choice of poor
1956 - First duffel made with horn toggles as a fashion item.
1960's- Duffel sits alongside the US parka as a statement of anti establishment rebellion.
1976 - Viscount Montgomery of Alamein dies.
1987- Ideal Clothing Company, part of Tibbett plc, changes it's name to Montgomery as a celebration of 100 years
after Montgomery's birth.
Today - Montgomery re-positions the brand as a design icon with a focus on its heritage and Made In England label.