A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about British outerwear brands and a reader quite rightly pointed out that I had missed off Barbour. So, because of that, and also because it is raining AGAIN, I am going to write about Barbour and their waterproof jackets today…
Started as a drapers shop at 5 Market Place, South Shields in 1894, the oilskin coats that J Barbour & Sons first set about selling were designed to protect the local fishing community from heavy rain and bad weather. These first coats were waterproofed with linseed oil which tended to go stiff in cold weather or turn yellow after a while. The waxed cotton version came about in the 1930’s after two years of development and has continued to evolve over the years until it became what it is today.
After decades of the coats only being worn by country folk, or Italians who loved the brand’s English sensibility, the last few years has seen no self respecting festival goer without one glued to their back. This summer Barbour have capitalised on this trend with the Barbour Festival Guide, which includes a suggestion of where to pitch your tent in case of a torrential downpour. There’s obviously also a guide to what to wear, lest you need reminding that if you go to any outdoor event in the UK in the summer you are also going to need a waterproof jacket (as well as a sense of humour).
There is also a growing market for vintage Barbour jackets, with sites like Mr Starr having trouble keeping up with demand for some of the rarer 50’s and 60’s styles.
This revival in interest in Barbour can only be a good thing. It’s factory in South Shields still employs nearly 200 people to make it’s wax jackets, and whilst not all of it’s product range is made there, being Made in England is still an important part of what Barbour are about.
The new Barbour store is at 134 Long Lane, St Martin’s Courtyard, WC2E 9AA