Most will recognise these dark but smart jackets from the shoulders of mods, skinheads and rudeboys in the 1970s, although they are still a popular choice of jacket today.
Long in length and single breasted with a slim collar across the chest, Crombie coats can be worn by any man, even if he is not part of mod culture. However, it’s useful to know the history of the clothing on your back, especially when it holds such a cultural significance in the UK.
But why exactly is it so significant? Let’s find out.
Crombie was founded in 1805 by Mr John Crombie who set up the business with his son, James. They began the company at their home in Aberdeen and initially only produced cloth which they would then sell to the tailors in London. After 50 years, the company had received awards from Queen Victoria for the quality of their product, and they soon after began producing coats of their own.
And so, the classic Crombie men’s coat was born.
Crombie became big players in the game after they received large orders from the military, providing coats for soldiers throughout the first and second world war. It was said that 1 in 10 coats worn during the war were made by Crombie, and that these were one of the best quality coats available at the time.
After the wars, The Crombie family sold the business to Illingworth Morris, the largest Wooling textile company in Britain.
It wasn’t just those in the UK who grew to love the Crombie men’s coat, the Japanese also took a liking to this high quality garment. In the early 1920s, Crombie made £50,000 in sales in one year, a huge amount back then that would be a revenue equal to around £2.1 million today.
A decade later in the 1930s, there were advertisements for the Crombie coat in newspapers across the world in countries such as Canada, Australia and the US.
Signature mod style
In the 1960’s, these coats were adopted by mods as they fit in well with their clean cut style, while also looking smart. The coats can be worn over any outfit and served as a great alternative to the usual fishtail parkas and bomber jackets.
The Crombie men’s coat would be worn over a traditional mod outfit which might consist of a polo shirt, tucked in of course, with a pair of straight leg jeans held up by some elasticated braces. The look would be finished off with some Dr Martens boots that peaked out beneath the ankle-high jeans.
But ultimately, this was not just a coat for mods and rockers, this was a coat worn by men on a global scale, and was much more universal than the bomber or harrington jacket.
Unsurprisingly, due to its fantastic reputation and high quality, the Crombie coat has been worn by many famous faces over the years, even royalty.
Politicians such as Winston Churchill, John F Kennedy, and King George VI were all seen wearing the iconic Crombie coat, as well as Jack Nicolson, who wore the Crombie coat starring as the Joker in the first Batman film.
Peter Capaldi who starred as the Doctor in Doctor Who, wore a Crombie coat with a red lining, and as a result their sales shot up by 100%.
Where is it now?
In the last decade, Crombie has been on quite a journey after hundreds of years of success. It had shops in both London and Manchester, and the Crombie men’s coat was sold in Harrods too, likely due to it’s high quality (with a price tag to reflect)
Since then, these shops have unfortunately closed, and in May 2020 Crombie announced that they will be pausing operations and closing their online store until further notice.
Today, their website is still live but there are no products available to purchase, with a ‘coming soon’ button featuring next to the men’s section.
They may be working for privately selected clients, as there is the option to contact Crombie and request a bespoke garment – but this is by invitation only.
Luckily, there are plenty of online retailers that offer coats in the same style and cut as the Crombie men’s coat, so buyers are able to achieve the same look without the original Crombie.
So, if you’re after an original, authentic Crombie coat, be sure to keep checking their website and keep an eye out in the press for any updates, as no doubt they will resume normal business soon.
There are not many garments that carry such a close personal history. Such a significant item made originally by a father/son duo originating in Scotland that managed to scale their business and attract customers from all over the world, there’s no doubt that this is one of the most successful British brands of all time. If you’re hoping to get your hands on one soon, then best of luck, and don’t forget there are plenty of alternatives online if you just can’t wait!