Burberry advertisement for waterproof gabardine suit, 1908

Gabardine is a tough, tightly woven fabric used to make suits, overcoats, trousers, uniforms, windbreakers and other garments.


The word gaberdine or gabardine has been used to refer to a particular item of clothing, a sort of long cassock but often open at the front, since at least the 15th century, in the 16th becoming used for outer garments of the poor, and later signifying a rain cloak or protective smock-frock.[1][2]

The modern use of the term for a fabric rather than a garment dates to Thomas Burberry, founder of the Burberry fashion house in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England, who invented the fabric and revived the name in 1879, and patented it in 1888. Gabardine made its public appearance in 1879 when it was introduced by Burberry Clothing.[A]


The original fabric was worsted wool, sometimes in combination with cotton, and was waterproofed using lanolin before weaving.[4] The fiber may also be pure cotton, texturised polyester, or a blend.

Gabardine is woven as a warp-faced steep or regular twill, with a prominent diagonal rib on the face and smooth surface on the back. Gabardine always has many more warp than weft yarns.[5][6][1]

Gabardine is tightly woven and water-repellent but more comfortable than rubberised fabrics.[6]


Burberry clothing of gabardine was worn by polar explorers, including Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole, in 1911 and Ernest Shackleton, who led a 1914 expedition to cross Antarctica. A jacket made of this material was worn by George Mallory on his ill-fated attempt on Mount Everest in 1924.[7]

Gabardine was also used widely in the 1950s to produce colourful patterned casual jackets, trousers and suits. Companies like J. C. Penney, Sport Chief, Campus, Four Star and California Trends were all producing short-waisted jackets, sometimes reversible, commonly known as weekender jackets.

Cotton gabardine is often used by bespoke tailors to make pocket linings for suits, where the pockets' contents would quickly wear holes in flimsy pocket lining material.[8]

Clothing made from gabardine is generally labelled as being suitable for dry cleaning only, as is typical for wool textiles.

See also



  1. ^ "What makes gabardine unique is the fabric’s ability to be water-resistant and breathable at the same time. It’s also an extremely tough fabric which made it perfect for military use. Not only were officers wearing a trench coat able to stay comparatively dry in the trenches during rain, thanks to the breathability of gabardine, but the coats also did not make them sweat and dehydrate in hot and humid temperatures either."[3]


  1. ^ a b Picken 1957, p. 145.
  2. ^ Cumming 2010, p. 88.
  3. ^ Tung, Christen. "Burberry: What Makes the Luxury Brand So Unique?". Maggwire. Retrieved June 21, 2021.
  4. ^ Royal Society of Chemistry
  5. ^ Kadolph (2007), pp. 240, 472
  6. ^ a b Cumming 2010, p. 248.
  7. ^ "Replica clothes pass Everest test". BBC News
  8. ^ Jackets, Coats, and Suits from Threads. Threads Magazine. Taunton Press. 1992. p. 29. ISBN 9781561580484.


  • Cumming, Valerie, C. W. Cunnington and P. E. Cunnington. The Dictionary of Fashion History, Berg, 2010,ISBN 978-1-84788-533-3.
  • Kadolph, Sara J., ed. (2007) Textiles, 10th edition, Pearson Prentice HallISBN 0-13-118769-4.
  • Picken, Mary Brooks (1973) [1957]. The Fashion Dictionary. Funk & Wagnalls. ISBN 0-308-10052-2..

Media files used on this page

Jute nahtlos.png
Author/Creator: SoylentGreen, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Hessian Fabric made seamless. It will serve to create a normal map in Blender.
Batik Indonesia.jpg
Author/Creator: MartijnL, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0 nl
Batik cloth purchased in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
MacLachlan hunting tartan (D. W. Stewart).svg
Author/Creator: , Licence: CC BY-SA 2.5
A representation of the Maclachlan hunting tartan. This tartan is the oldest tartan to bear the name MacLachlan. This tartan is referred to as the Old MacLachlan, MacLachlan, and Hunting MacLachlan. This sett was first published in Old & Rare Scottish Tartans by D. W. Stewart in 1893.
Thread count: Y6, W4, Bk32, G32, Y6, W4, R48.
Sources: MacLachlan Clan Tartan WR1710 MacLachlan Hunting Tartan
Swedish weaving.jpg
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Detalj med en mönsterrapport upphämta. Detalj från denna bild
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