British heritage and lifestyle brand Barbour celebrates its 125 anniversary this year, and the family story of quality and heritage is more compelling for customers than ever.
Barbour’s 125th anniversary is a significant milestone in the company’s history. It is a celebration of the Barbour family, who, through the decades have nurtured, guided and led the company from its small beginnings in the marketplace of South Shields supplying oilskins to mariners and dockers to the global lifestyle brand it is today.
For 125 years the Barbour family has skilfully combined innovation, progress and growth with authenticity and heritage, always ensuring that the brand remains true to its roots and founding principles of quality, durability, attention to detail and fitness for purpose.
Now sold in more than 40 countries worldwide, Barbour remains unique: timeless clothing that is both practical and stylish, and appeals to all ages, whether it it is urban or country living.
The traditional waxed jackets are still made in the factory in South Shields. Barbour’s rewaxing and repairs service allows customers to return their wax jackets at any time to be rewaxed and repaired, thus ensuring their longevity for many years.
Let’s meet the five generations of the Barbour family who make it the successful and enduring 125-year-old brand it is today.
Founder John Barbour
In 1894, John Barbour, a Scotsman from Galloway, came across the border and opened the first Barbour store in the marketplace in South Shields in the north-east of England.
He began by selling oilskins and other garments to protect the growing community of sailors, fishermen, rivermen and dockers from the worst of the North Sea weather.
Second generation: Malcolm Barbour
In 1908, Malcolm Barbour, who had secretly always wanted to be a journalist, introduced the first Barbour catalogue. He expanded the business worldwide through these mail order catalogues with orders coming in from as far as Chile, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the Falkland Islands.
Third generation: Duncan Barbour
Duncan Barbour, a keen motorcyclist himself, introduced the one-piece International motorcycle suit in 1936.
Developed specifically for the 1936 International Six Day Trials (ISDT) event – hence its name – Barbour International became a market leader in motorcycle clothing from the late 1930s to the 1970s.
In 1964, American actor Steve McQueen wore a Barbour International suit as a member of the US team at the 1964 ISDT in East Germany.
Today Barbour International is a standalone brand that continues to draw inspiration from its motorcycling heritage.
Fourth generation: John Barbour
John Barbour re-introduced the company to country clothing and was responsible for designing the iconic Durham jacket before his untimely death in 1968. He was also instrumental in introducing the first dealer distribution.
Source: Jason Bell
Fourth generation: Dame Margaret Barbour
In 1968, Dame Margaret joined the board of directors to continue her husband’s legacy. She was made chairman of the company in 1973. She was responsible for designing and launching the Bedale, Beaufort and Border waxed jackets that made Barbour a household name in the late 1980s.
Dame Margaret is the proud holder of three royal warrants: from the Duke of Edinburgh in 1974, from the Queen in 1982, and from the Prince of Wales in 1987.
In 1988, Dame Margaret set up the Barbour Trust (now Barbour Foundation) to support charitable causes, cultural and community projects and women’s groups primarily in the North East. To date, more than £20.3m has been donated to worthwhile causes.
Fifth generation: Helen Barbour
Helen has been vice-chairman of Barbour since 1997. Together with leading tartan specialist Kinloch Anderson, she was responsible for introducing Barbour’s exclusive tartans in the late 1990s. In 2011 she launched a new sporting collection to reinforce the brand’s country credentials.
As a dog owner herself, in 2014, Helen designed a dog walking jacket ,and subsequently championed a new and very popular range of dog accessories including leads and dog beds.
Icons Re-Engineered Collection
To celebrate the 125th anniversary, Barbour has launched a new range. Called the Icons Re-Engineered collection, it features a limited edition of jackets for men and women that have featured large in the history of Barbour.
Each Icons Re-Engineered piece is inspired by a legendary jacket from the archive that reflects a significant period in the company’s history, updated into a contemporary style steeped in Barbour heritage, relevant for today.
All the jackets take the distinctive Dress Gordon lining, popular in in the 1980s, and come with a collectable 125 anniversary pin. Look out for the hidden B on the women’s jackets.
Global marketing and commercial director Paul Wilkinson said: “Our 125th anniversary has inspired our Icons Re-Engineered collection, which offers an authentic contemporary take on design classics from the archives.
“The range takes you on a journey from the Haydon, our oldest waxed jacket from 1910, through to our motorbike-inspired Barbour International and celebrates the important milestones of the introduction of quilts, countrywear and modern-day Barbour. Each is a jacket with a history and heritage to be discovered.”
Sir Ridley Scott and Barbour
Legendary film director and producer, Sir Ridley Scott was born in South Shields, so it was fitting that the 125 brand film should be produced by the Ridley Scott Creative Group.
Directed by Antony Crook, the film is narrated by Dame Margaret and Helen Barbour, and tells the story of the history and heritage of Barbour.
As a result of working with the Ridley Scott Creative Group on the film, the idea of a Director’s jacket for men and women came about. Especially designed by Barbour and Sir Ridley Scott to celebrate Barbour’s 125th anniversary, the Director’s jacket is the ultimate jacket for all film makers and anyone who loves being outdoors.
Featuring detailed finishes requested by Sir Ridley himself, together with input from his son, Luke Scott, CEO of the Ridley Scott Creative Group, and his daughter Jordan on the women’s version, the Director’s jacket has a military-style collar and roll-away hood.
In true Barbour style, this jacket has hand-warmer pockets with additional features such as offset pockets to hold keys and a signature script lower pocket to accommodate an A4 script.
Key details on the jacket include anti-glare zips and studs designed to avoid attracting attention on film sets. An inner detachable quilt for extra warmth gives the option for the jacket to be worn across all seasons.
The back label on all the jackets features a bird illustration drawn personally by Sir Ridley, and two of the studs on the jacket feature this unique bird design.
For further information, please contact 0191 427 4210.