With three Royal Warrants, Barbour’s stylish, functional clothing for men, women and children is sought after in over 40 countries around the world. It’s a fifth-generation family-owned business, founded in 1894 in South Shields when John Barbour began supplying oilskins and weather resistant garments to local mariners and dockers.
Building on its growing reputation for innovation and quality, Barbour supplied outdoor clothing to the military during the two World Wars, its Ursula suit becoming standard issue for the Submarine Service. Then, in 1936, Barbour created the iconic wax cotton motorcycle suit, worn by nearly every rider on the International Six Day Trials circuit from the 1950s, most notably actor Steve McQueen in 1964.
In the 1980s, Dame Margaret Barbour designed the Bedale and Beaufort jackets, establishing Barbour as a household name. The two styles remain best sellers and are still made in Barbour’s South Shields factory.
In September 2020, actor Sam Claflin became the face of Barbour Gold Standard, a new collection of wax outerwear and quilted styles for men inspired by Barbour’s archive, which dates back to 1910. In October, Re-Engineered for Today was launched as a premium wax collection for women, with leather trims and high shine brass zippers adding a contemporary edge to classics.
The Barbour by ALEXACHUNG collaboration continues to produce innovative fashion-forward pieces while childrenswear and footwear are selling well as Barbour grows its reputation as a global lifestyle brand.
During lockdown, Barbour proved its ability to adapt fast to its community’s needs, making 72,000 PPE items, including scrubs, gowns and masks, for local North East NHS Trusts at no charge. ‘The factory is no stranger to adaptation,’ says chairman, Dame Margaret Barbour. ‘During both World Wars we turned the factory over to make military garments to assist the war effort. We are pleased to have been able to make a difference once again by supporting the NHS.’
The brand has also responded to the increased demand for online retail by launching e-commerce in the US. It also reacted swiftly to customers spending more time at home by introducing a new casual loungewear collection.
Now its major focus, again perfectly in tune with customers, is sustainability. Annually over 60,000 Barbour jackets are rewaxed or repaired globally and 2021 marks a century of rewaxing. A Barbour jacket rewaxed at least once a year can last a lifetime. In September 2020, Barbour opened its first Wax for Life station in London’s Selfridges, comprising a rewaxing area for customers to bring their jackets to be serviced, a personalisation service and Barbour Re-Loved, a programme that breathes new life into customers’ old jackets and offers them to new owners. Repair, restore and recycle are the important buzzwords for 2021 and now Barbour has added one more: rewax.