2019 has been a milestone year for Barbour as it celebrated its 125th birthday – a time to reflect on longevity, family and the endurance of British manufacturing. Barbour is still wholly family owned (now fifth generation), a global success story sold in over 40 countries worldwide and the proud holder of three Royal Warrants.
The story began in 1894 in South Shields in the North East of England with founder John Barbour supplying weather-resistant oilskins and other garments designed to protect the growing community of sailors, fishermen and dockers.
During the First and Second World Wars, the firm produced outdoor clothing for the military and Barbour’s superior Ursula suit became standard issue for members of the Submarine Service in World War Two. In 1936, Barbour created the wax cotton International Motorcycle suit, sported by almost every rider on the International Six Day Trials (ISDT) circuit from the 1930s to the 1970s and brought to fame by actor Steve McQueen as a member of the US team in the 1964 ISDT.
In the 1980s, Dame Margaret Barbour was to design the famous three wax jackets destined to make Barbour a household name – the Bedale, the Beaufort and the Border. As Barbour celebrates this year, the Bedale and the Beaufort remain bestsellers and are still made at the brand’s South Shields factory.
The story began in 1894 with founder John Barbour supplying weather-resistant oilskins to sailors and fishermen
Inspired by Barbour’s motorcycle heritage dating back to 1936, Barbour International – now a standalone brand – is one of the fastest growing areas of the business, offering a bike-inspired alternative to the country look with minimalist designs for men and sophisticated athleisure for women.
A key element is the Barbour International Steve McQueen collection, which will celebrate its 18th season in 2020. Childrenswear was also relaunched in Autumn Winter 2019 and the brand now offers ‘mini me’ Barbour and Barbour International collections for boys and girls, ideal for the playground or weekends outdoors.
Displaying an unerring ability to move with the times but stay true to its heritage, this much-loved brand will surely be celebrating anniversaries way into the future.