Founded: 1894, in South Shield’s in North East England, as an importer of oil cloth by John Barbour.
History: John Barbour’s grandson, Duncan who joined the Barbour business in 1928, was a keen motorcyclist. During his tenure at the company, Barbour became the originator of waxed cotton motorcycling suits and jackets.
Although the thorn-proof “the Bedale” jacket debuted in 1980, the definitive “the Beaufort” jacket, which was designed by Chairman, Margaret Barbour, was featured in the Barbour range for the first time in 1983.
Although the company moved to Wimbledon (in SW London) in 1916 it returned north to Simonside, South Shields, in 1981.
Barbour’s classic wax jackets are still manufactured by hand in the factory in Simonside and each year over 100,000 jackets are processed – including jackets returned by delighted owners seeking a repair and reproofing service.
J Barbour and Sons Ltd hold royal warrants from HM Queen Elizabeth 2 and HRH Charles, Prince of Wales for “waterproof and protective clothing”. The Household Cavalry Polo Team is a brand ambassador for Barbour.
My Barbour Jacket: I believe I have had a total of three Barbour jackets. My first in the mid 1980’s which parallels an era that’s was typified by this essential Sloane Ranger classic. I am not sure I really identified with this urban tribe but we’d all wear them on stormier evenings propping up the bar at the White Horse (aka “the Sloane Pony”) in Parsons Green with corduroys trousers and fine brown brogues. My second became an essential part of my commute from SW London too the West End really before the strides that London has made in terms of improving public transport. In the mid-1990’s we were all taking to scooters to avoid the dreaded commute to work. My preferred steed was a Vespa ET2 (see more) – 50ccs of pure liberation – but depending on the drenching I’d alternate my Barbour with the longer Drizabone (see below). Now my third incarnation, now with a zipped in lining is likely to be seen on a dog or beach walks but it is scheduled for a return to the Home of Barbour for a repair on the arm and reproofing. Whilst not all will understand those who love these jackets will appreciate the waxy smell and slight inflexibility but in the rain they really do shine.
Your Barbour Jacket?:
Photo by Barbour