Barbour Jacket: History of the Barbour Jacket - Fashion Terms of Interest to the Fashion Industry

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The Barbour Jacket is as famous in England as Scotch whiskey. This durable jacket gives comfort and class while resisting cold winds, rain, freezing cold and hailstorms.

Advertised as the country men’s best friend, the Barbour Jacket’s of today have surpassed the cliché and moved into high-class urban society and even Hollywood. The jackets are made from high quality Egyptian cotton, with strong metal zips and brass studs stitched within the seams. The jacket itself is light-weight and comes in different cuts and styles to flatter the figure. Barbour Jacket started its humble beginning in 1839. John Barbour opened a shop at 5 Market Place, South Shields, with the support of his wife Margaret Haining and their 11 children. At first the shop catered only to the sailors, the fishing community and river, dock and shipyard workers. The shop sold cotton jackets that were waxed to withstand the harsh surrounding wet weather. These coats were so renowned for their ability to keep warm under any circumstances, that during WWI and WWII, they were in high demand by the military personnel. They are still hand stitched in the company’s factory at South Shield, England, with an annual production of 100,000 jackets.

In 1908, Barbour published its first catalogue, advertising jackets for their biggest clients like sailors, farmers, fishermen etc.

By 1917, the mail order catalogue business was flourishing with 75% orders, including international orders from countries like Chile, South Africa and Hong Kong. During the 1930’s, the company under the advice of Duncan Barbour, started a motorcyclist clothing line.  

In 1957, Barbour became manufactures and marketers, shifting their establishment to Simonside Trading Estate on the outskirts of South Shields. Barbour received its first Royal Warrant by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1974. This led to the design of Barbour classics like the Bedale which is a short lightweight riding jacket, the Border and the Beaufort jacket. Barbour classic jackets shifted from country wear to casual wear with people donning the jacket for everyday activities.

Today, Barbour has over 2000 products for all seasons, and caters to Women and Children as well. There are 8 retail shops spread across the UK, with 29 shops worldwide in countries like Germany, Holland, Austria, France, US, Italy, Spain, Argentina, New Zealand and Japan.


Some Barbour Jacket Resources; - Van Mildert was established in 1996 as a men's and women's fashion boutique in picturesque Durham City. Retailing from an old 17th century Gaol, the Grade 1 listed building on Elvet Bridge leads to the cathedral in the heart of the city. The store certainly has character and 'Bob' the 'tour guide' even used to bring the city's many daily visitors to marvel at the store, shocked by the retail space we had created. Van Mildert was certainly new and exciting, retailing in a space with so much character and history. This lifestyle store was one of the first really directional independents. Back then Margiela, Dries Van Noten, Comme Des Garçon, Helmut Lang and Costume National were only available inside of London, but now the North East had its own fashion lifestyle store - a haven for the fashionista. Books from Atlas littered the old shelves, home accessories from Atomic brightened up the display cases, and furniture from SCP was used daily by customers shopping to the latest sounds on Rough Trade. Local artists exhibited their work in store and sculpture installations from art students and the regions designers all had a price tag, adding to the lifestyle concept. Customers from as far as London would spend an afternoon in the store with some of the most experienced and passionate staff who still feature in the industry today. - Barbour

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