Duffel coat, Australia: Pleased to meet you!
Vintage mania in Australia seems like a strange contradiction.
Despite being ‘down under’, Australia is Britain’s closest neighbour in terms of language, culture and infrastructure. Quintessential relics of our former colonial days are still alive today in many aspects of American and Canadian culture; the infamous Southern tea parties, the irritating use of now defunct words such ‘gotten’, ‘math’ or ‘pacifier’ and of course the high numbers of people still following Old order religious movements.
Yet Australia is a relatively new country, having just 200 odd years to build up a unique culture and history. It is a well known fact that in order for vintage to become fashionable, it needs to have been around before. The natural human fixation with objects past comes in cycles. Did the pea coats and duffels of the 60’s echo a previous Edwardian counterpart? And did the maxi evening dresses and fluid flares not lend themselves to lazy 1930’s eveningwear? Vintage is huge in America and Britain and we have plenty of eras to choose from; the more disastrous the better. But is the same macabre fascination with the past really live and kicking in Australia’s fashion culture? With it’s rolling Ramsay Street cul-de-sacs, huge modern metropolises and waterfronts and immaculate, sun-kissed surfer iconicity, perhaps there is no room for the humble British duffle coat in Australia’s memory bank.
And with balmy winter temperatures averaging 20 degrees in Australia, duffel coats would need to defy all practical sense, yet isn’t that what fashion does best? There is no practicality in for legwarmers outside the ballet studio or indeed dignity in low rise ‘hipster’ jeans of the 90’s yet all these were celebrated down catwalks and festered across in popular high street brands for decades, even coming back second helpings years later. Maybe in Australia duffel coats might ignite a cheeky fondness for it’s mother country’s eccentricity remind it that no matter how polished they have become, those photos of Beatle fans outside Melbourne’s Essendon Airport 1964 with their homemade haircuts and post-war woollies are a legacy of our shared dedication to all things ‘cool’.