Why the century-old Barbour brand is so special?

There are brands that mark us and marry us for life and Barbour is one of those rare cases. Almost everyone loves the brand, those who have tried it and those who have not yet done it but who one day hope to do it, of course, there are always those who hate it simply because others love it, but if there is an unpretentious brand and that rarely used advertising media to promote it, that brand is Barbour.


Barbour will forever be known as the brand that produces the most well-known wax jackets and known as “a jacket for a life”. Although their coats are not cheap, they are also not too expensive, they embody a lifestyle and many people see them as a ticket to the world of success and high society. Whoever wears it is seen as someone with style and good taste, and it doesn’t matter if the jacket is brushed or even has patches because the jacket in the eyes of its wearers and those who tried the brand seem more valuable.

The famous wax jacket is not only its main product but also the one that made Barbour a global brand, whoever owns it describes it as a perfect coat that can be used anywhere, from the field to the most luxurious place with certainty that it will never let you look bad or out of place, another of its characteristics is its traditional colour, olive green, which is described as perfect and that goes well with any garment. There are also a number of features that easily help to identify the traditional Barbour coat and they are its thornproof material that is made of long Egyptian cotton, impregnated with wax according to a special procedure, corduroy collar, bellows pockets, anti-corrosion brass pressure springs, that won’t wear out over the years, zipper easy to open and close with a large loop that allows handling even with gloves and the real tartan interior, these are the main common features for most of the Barbour coats. The production of each of these jackets passes through the hands of 36 people from they enter until they leave the factory.

The brand’s foundations date back to the 19th century when in 1894 John Barbour opened “J Barbour & Sons” in South Shields and started making overcoats and waterproof jackets, in 1908 the brand produced its first catalogue that contained a highlighted lighthouse, which was for a long time the symbol of Barbour, at the top in large letters it could read “Wet Weather Wear” and in small letters at the bottom  “Beacon Brand Specialties in Oilskins, Waterproofs Footwear” on the back cover a man in an overcoat wearing a hat with a text that describes it as a “special light-weight coat” ideal for “yachting, fishing, driving, boating, walking and shooting”.

In 1936, by the hands of Duncan Barbour, grandson of the founder and enthusiastic motorcyclist, a line of coats was created entirely dedicated to motorcycling, which would equip all British international motorcycle teams between 1936 and 1977.

In 1939, the year Duncan was called to serving in WWII Barbour develops the “Ursula suit” which has become the standard jacket for members of the Submarine Service.

In 1953 the brand builds its first factory and stops being just a retailer and becomes the manufacturer and trader for the first time. In 1968, Margaret widow of John Barbour, son of Duncan, became a member of the Board of Directors and together with her daughter Helen they remain today at the controls of the brand.

In 1974 the brand receives its first Royal Warrant from the Duke of Edinburgh, in 1982 the second by Her Majesty The Queen and in 1987 the third by the Prince of Wales, becoming one of the few British clothing brands that boast three Royal Warrants. In 1980 the unique black and gold Barbour International badge is seen for the first time on a motorcycle jacket and in 1981 Barbour moved to a new factory in Simonside where it remains until today.

Today Barbour, despite being a business with a modern structure, continues to have traditional manufacturing, that keeps as a family business currently managed by its 5th generation. The brand’s portfolio is extensive and today offers a wide range of clothing not only for the countryside but also for a cosmopolitan life, aimed at men’s, women’s, children’s and also for dogs.

One of the services that make Barbour most proud and distinguishes it from other clothing brands is its recyclable resurface and repair service that offers brand customers, whose levels of care and dedication which is parallel to its factory production. This service is so important that the brand describes it as a very personal and sensitive relationship with its customers. The same coat comes into the factory three, four and five times over its long life to be repaired, often exceeding the value of a new Barbour coat, however, its owners do not mind paying because they want your coat and not another new one.

The Barbour coat is often seen as worn by various members of the royal family, people who fill social magazines, actors, singers, politicians, sportsmen and by the most diverse people spread all over the world. Just out of curiosity, in the North American series “Chicago P.D.” over the different seasons it is possible to see different actors using various models of Barbour jackets, among them, Patrick Flueger who plays the role of “Adam Ruzek”, Elias Koteas who plays the role of “Alvin Olinsky”, Sophia Bush who plays the role of “Erin Lindsay” and LaRoyce Hawkins who plays the role of “Kevin Atwater”.

To conclude we have to say that we are passionate not only for watches and classic cars but also for manufactured brands that exude tradition and Barbour is all that, as well as watches and classic cars as they gain patina they seem to gain value and the older the better because indicates that its holder belongs to the restricted club of people with good taste.


Photo credit from Barbour.