From county to Chelsea: the rise of the Barbour jacket

Oh how the mighty have got, well, mightier! With three Royal Warrants to its name, and Hollywood A listers like Brad Pitt donning their clothing, the rise of Barbour has been nothing less than formidable. It’s unrecognisable from the little South Shields business set up in 1894 by John Barbour. Thanks to the likes of Lily Allen and Peaches Geldolf chucking on a wax jacket at a festival a few years ago, its status has elevated from welly brigade to high street show-stopper.

 Barbour jacket

Company chairperson Dame Margaret Barbour has waved her magic wand and the clothing has risen through the style charts at a thundering rate. With stockists in more than 40 countries and the pages of Ebay crammed with old and new waxed or padded offerings, you know you are on to a winner with a Barbour jacket.

Country folk

Not so long ago Barbour was famed only for its green, loose-fitting wax ‘farmer’ jacket. The Queen gave it her stamp of approval by wearing hers whenever possible and Princess Diana looked gorgeous with hers just casually thrown on. But It really was only hardcore country folk who appreciated it’s earthy appearance and practicality. Types, it might be said, who knew how to bake a Victoria Sandwich, make chutney, ride a horse and knit (all at the same time).

Changing designs

Evidently we’re not all striding around in smelly green jackets that ‘need a good wash’! Barbour underwent a serious makeover and now has as many variations of its jacket as the Queen has horses. From celebs and world leaders, to the girl down the road, their appeal is contagious.

Wellies or flip flops

Barbour still has its ardent following of country folk, but more often than not they will be teamed with a mini-skirt and bare legs. Spend a day at the little Norfolk town of Burnham Market (AKA Chelsea Next-the-Sea) and every other gorgeous young thing is wearing a Barbour teamed with flip flops and a Jack Wills sweatshirt for good measure. People are even writing blogs about it! One in particular is the rather uninspiringly named Barbour Jackets Blog.

Best of British

The brilliant thing about this thriving business is that it is still very British. Barbour remains stoutly loyal to the UK with its offices and some of its factories based here, not so far from where it all began. And do you know that if your jacket needs repairing or re-oiling then you can send it to its factory in South Shields where it will receive a ‘service’. The Queen herself was offered a replacement for her faithful jacket, but refused, opting for the rejuvenation option instead. You can take a look at some pictures of their factory in this article by The Telegraph.

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