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The pea coat for "old sea dogs"

It was the first European sailors in the 15th century who normalised the use of this warm, waterproof garment. They reportedly brought back and altered a little cloak from the Maghreb, which was locally known as a "qaba" and worn by the Barbary pirates.

With wide crossed lapels which could be folded back on the chest, the pea coat allowed sailors to protect themselves against bad weather and the dampness aboard the ship.

The pea coat was customised by the Royal Navy from the 1800s. In France, it was described, for the first time, in a letter from the Minister of the Navy in 1845. It was portrayed as having a double row of 10 buttons, each etched with an anchor, as on the tips of a collar. The sleeves contained useful information to identify the sailor, such as rank insignia and specialism badges.

From then on, the pea coat became a must-have fashion item. It has inspired the great fashion designers: Yves Saint Laurent in 1962, followed by Jean- Paul Gaultier and Yohji Yamamoto. This garment features in the tale of Corto Maltese, the sea captain from the famous comic series.

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