Barbour began in 1894 in the Market Place in South Shields by John Barbour, who was originally from Galloway in Scotland. Today the 5th generation family owned business remains in the North East, with Barbour’s headquarters located in Simonside, South Shields. It sources products from around the globe, but Barbour’s wax jackets are still manufactured by hand in the factory in Simonside and each year over 100,000 jackets are produced.
Barbour Jackets are famed for their waxed cotton jackets. Waxed cotton was first developed for tea clipper sails, later developed in the 1920’s by a company called Websters where the cotton was impregnated with paraffin before being woven, then dyed black or green, and finally waxed. It was first introduced by Websters to New Zealand where it was given the name Japara. The outfits were a huge success with the sailing community because they were waterproof and extremely flexible.
Barbour initially produced wax jackets for farmers and gamekeepers. But in 1936 they produced the International suit for the 1936, 6 day International motorcycle trials.
In 1940 Submariner commander Captain George Philips was so impressed with the waterproof qualities of the International suit that he asked the firm to develop a suit. The Ursula Jacket and trousers became standard fare for submariners during the second world war.
The international Jacket appeared in 1951 and has developed over the years, still surviving to this day. The diagonal pocket was designed for easy access to maps and time trial cards for motorcyclists.
Barbour’s signature jacket the Bedale was introduced in 1980. Originally designed as an equestrian jacket, the shorter length suitable ideal for riding, in recent years it has become a popular choice with city dwellers.
In recent years Barbour have collaborated with many designers and labels from Adidas, Grenson, Rockport and Totokihito Yoshida to bring fresh new twists to the classic designs.
Today Barbour has 10 retail shops in the UK, and a presence in over 40 countries worldwide, and produces over 5000 pieces across the two seasons.
Barbour is available at the following retailers.