A global success story celebrates a milestone year

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


As it continues to evolve, Barbour’s challenge is to ensure that customers are aware of the breadth of its offering, which spans classic apparel including shirts and knitwear through to accessories, footwear and even a range for dogs. To support this, it has launched #barbourwayoflife, connecting consumers worldwide with Barbour, inviting them to share their interpretation of the Barbour lifestyle and generating over 70 million social impressions to date.


Sustainability is also increasingly important and Barbour is constantly looking at best practices and innovation in this area. A wax jacket is incredibly resilient and long-lasting if taken care of and Barbour offers a special service in which jackets can be returned at any time to customer services to be rewaxed or repaired.


2020 sees the continuation of fashion-forward womenswear collaborations with ALEXACHUNG and Emma Bridgewater for women, and New York-based Engineered Garments for men. A country-inspired Wilderness Collection for both men and women has also been launched with presenters Ben and Marina Fogle.

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.