Celebrating 125 years of Barbour 


We love birthdays. Our own, sometimes not so much, but other people’s? Yes. And this year, Barbour is celebrating a big one; a milestone birthday of 125 years. With a show-stopping celebratory capsule collection launching, a collaboration with style icon Alexa Chung on the shelves and a firm celebrity following in place, the brand is going from strength to strength.


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When you think of Barbour, your first thought is probably of iconic wax jackets and signature tartan linings. Kate Moss might spring to mind, festivals, horses, the countryside, your granddad, Steve McQueen riding a motorbike, the Scottish highlands… so iconic is the brand that all you need to say is ‘a Barbour’ and everyone knows what you mean.

It’s no surprise then that the brand has something of a rich heritage. Beginning life on the shores of South Shields in the 1890s, founder John Barbour began by supplying oilskins to the mariners. Over the subsequent decades the business was passed down through three generations – to Malcolm Barbour, Duncan Barbour – a keen biker who designed the one-piece motorcycle suit in 1936 that birthed Barbour International, and, finally, John Barbour.

After John’s untimely death in 1968, the business was left to his wife Dame Margaret Barbour, who, aged 29, took on the dynasty. “I had to carry this on, to continue what John had wanted,” she explains in Barbour’s 125th anniversary brand film. Without any training, she learnt as she went on – first mastering how to make a jacket.

Now knighted, Margaret is a business powerhouse after our own heart. Having run Barbour for 51 years, now alongside her daughter Helen, she has carved a huge future for the iconic brand, expanding their designs far beyond wax coats and motorcycle jackets. Today you can expect to see everything from athleisure pieces to easy-wear dresses and beautifully aged-looking leather accessories.



The clothes are where the magic lies (is a wardrobe even complete if it doesn’t contain one of their jackets?) and there are some new favourites to add to your repertoire. In honour of the 125-year anniversary, the brand has created a capsule collection named The Icons Re-Engineered, featuring five iconic Barbour jackets that have been reimagined for today.

Each is inspired by a moment in the Barbour timeline. We love the Haydon jacket, a waxed cotton beauty taken from a number nicknamed ‘Uncle Harry’s coat’. Uncle Harry, a wildlife photographer, wore the Barbour jacket he bought in 1910 every time he went to photograph golden eagles. His family, wearers of Barbour for three generations, continued to wear his coat right into the 1990s and it’s now the earliest example the brand have of a jacket made from waxed cotton. The updated number has a tactile, velvety collar for women and a tailored cut for men.

The update on the A7 jacket, the original Barbour International piece, keeps the angled chest pocket, which was originally made to store maps, and has been reinvented in a luxe, high-shine gloss for women. The men’s version feels modern and relaxed.

And to reflect their more recent history, the brand’s reinvented the Durham jacket for women into a waterproof number, and the sell-out Beacon Sports jacket for men, which was part of the AW11 collaboration with Japanese designer Tokihito Yoshida. It made menswear history when it was worn by Daniel Craig in Skyfall.

With so much history behind them, Barbour remains a favourite today. Britishness, timelessness, innovation…. we’re excited for what the next 125 years will hold. Happy Birthday Barbour. 

Head to YouTube to watch the story of the brand.


The Icons Re-Engineered

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