If you’ve ever seen the movie The Man From Snowy River, you’ve seen our famous Driza-Bone riding coats. They were also worn by the riders in the spectacular 2000 Sydney Olympic Games opening and closing ceremonies. Like the Akubra hat and Ugg Boots, the Driza-Bone coats are another Aussie icon.
What’s so special about the coats? This true icon reflects the ingenuity and practicality of the rugged Aussie surviving the hardships of the outback. The coats are also known for their superb quality and attention to the wearer’s comfort.
How it all began
Our story begins with E. Le Roy, an enterprising Scot crewmember of a sailing ship over 100 years ago. Weather aboard ship was always harsh and Le Roy experimented with making coats out of windjammer sailcloth to provide better protection for himself and his shipmates. Using the canvas made the coats comfortable in the warmer latitudes because the natural cotton allowed the coats to breathe instead of becoming hot and sticky inside. Le Roy originally waterproofed the canvas coats with paraffin, linseed oil, and beeswax. This waterproofing formula was to change over the years to solve cracking, fireproofing and other issues and is now a closely guarded secret.
The Kiwi connection
Although the coats are an Aussie icon, as we said, it wasn’t in Australia that Le Roy decided to settle. Instead around 1890 he left life aboard ship and moved to New Zealand. Lucky for us, not long after, his friend and fellow Kiwi, Thomas Edward (T.E.) Pearson emigrated to Manly, a Sydney suburb in Australia. Like his friend Le Roy, he also manufactured and sold a product he developed, Pearson’s Sand Soap.
While travelling around Australia on business he began to hear stories from the settlers about Le Roy’s coats. It seems some of the sailors who had his coats were now living in Australia. As a good businessman, T.E. decided to bring a consignment of Le Roy’s coats to Australia. They sold out in one week, encouraging the two men to set up manufacture in Australia. Like most Aussies, T.E. had a backyard shed. It became the Australian home of our now famous Driza-Bone coat.
Over the years, T.E. changed the coat to meet the needs of people living in the country. Its traditional wearers were often on horseback so T.E. added a fantail in the back to cover the saddle preventing a wet seat and lengthened the coat to completely cover the legs while riding. The longer length alsoavoided water getting into their boots. Because people worked outside in all kinds of weather, T.E. added leg straps to help with high winds and wrist straps to keep the rain out when working with their arms raised. The Driza-Bone coat is so durable that it’s often passed down through families or to friends.
Favourite Gift of Our Famous Visitors
Always proud of our unique Aussie style, Driza-Bone coats are a favourite gift to official visitors to our country and purchased by other famous visitors. Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Nancy and Ronald Regan, and former British Prime Mister Margaret Thatcher all have Driza-Bone coats. Even the entertainer Liberace owned two (one in puce and one in maroon) and bought 17 more for his entourage.
Today Driza-Bone coats come in a variety of colours and styles besides the more traditional browns and blacks. The coat is worn by both men and women as well as children. You’ll also find dogs wearing their own version of the Driza-Bone coats to help protect them from the weather too.
In 1974 the family sold the company. It has changed hands twice and is now owned by the Outback Consortium. The Driza-Bone factory is located at Eagleby in southeast Queensland.
Historically inaccurate film, The Man from Snowy River
The Australian film “The Man from Snowy River” put our Driza-Bone coats before the world public. Many of the riders in the film wore the coats, although historically inaccurate. The movie was based on the poem of the same nameby Aussie Banjo Paterson. However, the Driza-Bone coats did not exist when Banjo wrote his poem. In fact, Le Roy, the coat’s creator, was still living aboard ship.
Where did the Driza-Bone name come from?
T.E. Pearson’s nephew, the Reverend Bob Pickup, came up with the name when he showed him a big, dried out cattle bone. Thus “dry as a bone” became the registered name Driza-Bone with the trademark of a bone shaped logo.
http://DrizaBone.com.au – more about this coat and see their catalogue.