At Modern Gentleman Magazine we take great enjoyment in items that are well made and of high quality. We appreciate the passion exhibited by the men and women behind these types of products. There is often a direct relationship between high-quality products that have been produced for a long time, and a work force that is passionate and proud about what they design and produce. The “Spotlight On” series will highlight these brands, and the products they make. The items covered as part of this series will be a great addition to the life of the modern gentleman.
We start the series looking at a brand that has been in operation since 1894, and produces clothing and outerwear that has stood the test of time, Barbour of England.
Spotlight on: Barbour
Originally founded by John Barber in 1894 in South Shields, England, “J. Barbour and Sons” began as an importer of oil-cloth (a fabric traditionally coated with boiled linseed oil to make it waterproof). Under John’s grandson Duncan (an avid motorcyclist), the company transitioned to producing waterproof outerwear including motorcycle jackets. In the time since, Barbour has become famous around the world for producing high-quality outdoor clothing. Barbour has since branched out from simple outerwear to a full clothing line, including footwear.
After a temporary relocation to Wimbledon in 1916, Barbour opened their first clothing manufacturing plant (the Simonside Factory) in 1981. Barbour continues to produce items, most notably their classic waxed jackets, at the Simonside factory today. Barbour has received three Royal Warrants from Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Prince of Wales. The three warrants are proudly displayed as part of the labels on Barbour’s classic jackets today.
Barbour jackets, with their unique look and style, have been worn by many important figures around the world. The visibility Barbour has enjoyed in the media continues to add to Barbour’s popularity worldwide. Most recently, Daniel Craig wore one of Barbour’s more contemporary jackets in the James Bond film Skyfall (tip: read the article on how to dress like you starred in SkyFall over at Esquire, which brought the brand back into the spotlight in the meanswear community.
Although Barbour does produce a full line of clothing, the focus of this article is to spotlight the outerwear collection, which has made Barbour a household name around the world. Barbour’s classic waxed jackets typically include a soft corduroy collar that can be turned up to provide the wearer protection from the elements. They include chest level hand warmers that are made of soft moleskin, which is luxurious to the touch. The jackets are typically lined in one of Barbour’s class tartan plaids.
Barbour’s “Lifestyle” Line is the heart of their collection and includes (but is not limited to) the following iconic jackets:
Beaufort Waxed Jacket: One of Barbour’s most iconic waxed jackets, the Beaufort was originally created in 1983. The Beaufort was inspired by French shooting jackets, and contains a useful rear full-width lined game pocket. It’s literally where the hunter would store the game he killed, so he didn’t have to carry it in his hands.
Bedale Waxed Jacket: Styled very similarly to the Beaufort, the Bedale is a shorter length jacket and was originally introduced for horseback riding. The Bedale has a split vent rear that provides the wearer with additional room and comfort when on horseback.
Liddesdale Quilted Jacket: Probably the most iconic of Barbour’s quilted jackets, the Liddesdale is cut generously to fit over layered clothing including knitwear. Barbour’s quilted jackets offer lightweight protection from the elements, and a slimmer silhouette.
Barbour’s International Line was created in 1936, as their website quotes to “represent the thrill of motorcycling”. This line includes Barbour’s extremely popular “Steve McQueen” collection. The collection was inspired by an American team competing in the International Six Day Trials (that included Steve McQueen himself of course). The International Line includes the following popular jackets:
International Original Waxed Jacket: Barbour’s iconic motorcycle jacket, originally made in 1936. Constructed of heavyweight 8oz. waxed cotton, to protect riders from the elements and the roadway itself. Interesting to note, most of Barbour’s International line of jackets contains one slanted chest pocket, designed to provide a rider easy to access while on his bike.
Wax 9665 Jacket: A medium weight wax jacket inspired by the legendary American racer and actor, Steve McQueen. The jacket contains a really unique image of McQueen himself within.
To remain relevant today, Barbour has done a fantastic job of offering many of their traditional, iconic jackets in a slimmer silhouette, which is often preferred by the younger generation. For example, Barbour produces the Ashby, which is a slimmed down version of their Classic Bedale jacket.
Another reason Barbour continues to expand their audience is due to their many successful collaborations with other brands from around the world. Barbour has collaborated to create special products for brands ranging from Land Rover and Adidas to smaller ones like Pantone and White Mountaineering. As mentioned earlier, Daniel Craig wore a Barbour jacket in the movie Skyfall, that happened to be a collaboration with Japanese designer Tokihito Yoshida.
As many makers of high quality goods do, Barbour offers an in-house service to repair or re-wax jackets. There are some wonderful videos that are not hard to find online that show the process a used or damaged jacket goes through to be repaired. Taking this into account, along with the overall quality that the jackets are constructed with, it’s not hard to see why Barbour’s jackets truly become a product that you can enjoy for a lifetime, and pass on to others to enjoy after you.
Having owned two Barbour jackets now, a Classic Bedale and currently the slimmer Ashby, I can vouch for how fantastic Barbour’s jackets are. They are very well made, from fantastic materials, and show true attention to detail. Barbour’s jackets are unique in that they look just as good dressed up with tailored clothing underneath, as well as dressed down on the weekend or for work outdoors.
Barbour jackets are generally a true three-season jacket, and I see myself getting a lot of use out mine over my life. Many of the jackets are compatible with zip in liners that can provide additional insulation during colder weather. Another benefit of Barbour’s waxed jackets is that they tend to become more attractive the longer you wear them. They develop a certain patina with use, not unlike a high quality pair of shoes, or broken in pair of raw denim.
If well cared for, a Barbour jacket is an item that you can look forward to passing on to a future generation of gentleman, and I look forward to handing mine to my son someday. I leave you with some images of Barbour’s wonderful products, as inspiration: