At Fur Feather & Fin we stock a variety of iconic country clothing brands. One of the most well-known British brands, Barbour, and how they came to be one of the most famous manufacturers of coats and jackets in the world. Please note, we do not stock Barbour clothes, but have a variety of country clothing and accessories from top brands: take a look here.
Barbour was founded in 1894 in the North East coastal town of South Shields by John Barbour, who would sell waxed jackets on the market that he had made from imported oilcloth. The company was originally known as J. Barbour & Sons but known today as simply Barbour. Barbour’s roots are still part of the company’s identity, as the classic wax jackets are still manufactured by hand in the factory in Simonside, South Shields, making around 100,000 jackets every year.
The wax jackets are an integral part of Barbour’s history, as they are how the company was formed. South Shields was a busy port, and there was a big demand from sailors, fishermen and shipyard workers for hardwearing clothes that would keep them dry. A common misconception is that Barbour came up with Oilskins, but the process of impregnating oils into fabric to make them waterproof dates to the 15th century! Over the years, there have been improvements and changes to the manufacturing of waxed cotton, including in 2005 with the removal of the distinctive cupro-ammonia smell from the paraffin wax.
Motorcycling and Country Sports
After the war, waxed cotton was used for multiple things, and was quickly taken up for country sports enthusiasts, motorcyclists, farmers and gamekeepers, with J. Barbour & Sons being one of the earliest manufacturers and retailers to catch on. The Barbour International motorcycle suit was born, and the suits were worn by nearly every British International motorcycling team between 1936 and 1977.
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Barbour has received three royal warrants over the years, and many members of the Royal Family can be seen wearing Barbour jackets and coats when out and about in the countryside or attending country events. The first recognition came from the Duke of Edinburgh in 1974, followed by the Queen herself who recognised the company as being one of the finest providers of outdoor clothing. The third royal warrant came from Prince Charles in 1987.
In 2004, Barbour began working with Lord James Percy in designing and marketing their shooting clothing, the Northumberland range. Technically advanced, it has won several awards since its launch and has been commended for the breathable coatings and engineered sleeves.
It is not just in the UK where Barbour has become a recognisable country brand, as it sells in more than 40 countries around the world, and there are thousands of products available. Beloved by country folk throughout its 124-year history, Barbour has maintained its reputation for creating stylish, practical, performance clothing that will last for decades.
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Image credit: Luca Boldrini