Barbour waxed jackets belong to one of fashion’s foremost classic. Appreciated by young and old all over the world and in all possible environments. In a two-part article series has our site visited the factory in South Shields, North East England, to find out the secret behind the success.
The story of Barbour stretches back to 1894 when the Scottish John Barbour started production of oil coats in South Shields in England’s northeast coast. Barbour coats quickly became popular among local fishermen, sailors and dockers who needed to protect themselves from the North Sea’s harsh weather. 1906 came the sons Jack and Malcom into the company then began marketing the brand also for people in the countryside. They launched including Barbour’s mail order catalog that quickly became a success and gave new customers worldwide.
The strongest is the brand associated with its undoubtedly waxed jackets. The idea is taken from sail manufacturer that created the sails of flax treated with linseed oil, which gave the sails water-repellent properties. Later discovered manufacturers that flax was too heavy and, therefore, began instead to use cotton with the treated surface. With this material, also called Oilskins, John Barbour created their very first coats. The problem with the material was that it was very immobile in colder temperatures and tended to have a yellowish tone after use. In the mid-30s began because Barbour, together with other stakeholders to develop new types of wax.
– Waxed cotton will always be our main materials. We have with our experience in the field have learned to use it for this type of garment. At the same time, we must obviously innovate. Recent years we have worked a lot with light cotton qualities, but also started to use more modern materials such as Gore-Tex in some garments, says Ian Bergin, head of Barbour menswear collection.
The design of the jackets collected almost exclusively from the brand’s archives and many of the most classic jackets has a rich history in itself. Ian shows up the previous versions of the International, which this year celebrates its 75th anniversary, but whose history stretches back to 1920 when the brand has already launched its first collection of motorcycle jackets. Duncan Barbour, who was the son of Malcom and a true motorcycle enthusiast, began his career at the company in 1928. Two years later, the brand launched its first motorcycle jackets when in the form of comprehensive overalls. As the motorcycles grew faster jackets also became narrower and shorter.1946 Launched the final version of the International with its characteristic waist belt and the tilted left breast pocket, which appeared to make it easier to reach the map while a tygflärp protects the water from leaking out.
– It’s easy to over design a garment with various details that do not really serve any purpose. The exciting with Barbour many models are all characteristic details born from an idea of function. That we, for example, began using corduroy in the collar because the tracks in this fabric wicks away water from the body, says Ian Bergin.
Barbour is still family-owned and operated today by Helen Barbour and her mother Dame Margaret Barbour, whose husband John Barbour, tragically died in 1968. John was the son of Malcom Barbour who steered the company until his death in 1964. It is Marg Minarets time now has really flourished. Margaret spent much time to streamline factory in South Shields that started 1957. 1981 she introduced the brand new catalog which adorned the cover of a young happy that walked in the classic British countryside setting with her Jack Russell. With the new communication Barbour became almost a symbol of the British lifestyle and rural areas in particular; “People who know the country know why the need a Barbour” was the slogan. From this was born even many of the brand’s real classics like Bedale, Border and Beaufort. These shorter and more minimalist jackets were quickly drew not only on land but also in town where Barbour jackets have become a true fashion icon.