Celebrating 120 years


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Barbour Celebrating 120 Years Video

Celebrate 120 years of history, heritage and development, as you journey from new collections and store openings, back to the beginning of the Barbour story in the Market Place.


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A burst of colour

For Spring Summer 2014, Barbour celebrated the colours of the British countryside with a new collaboration with Pantone

For nearly 50 years, Pantone has been the world renowned authority on standardising colour matches and is the industry standard for accurate colour communication. Expressing this creativity, the collection includes a range of Barbour's iconic quilts in country colours with co-ordinated shirts for men and women. 


Gary Janes: Inside Barbour

Design Manager Gary Janes shares the Barbour design secrets, the founding principles of the brand, and what Barbour means around the world today.

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Design Manager Gary Janes on Barbour


Barbour Gold Label's Amanda Harlech

The Creative Consultant for the luxurious Barbour Gold Label collection, Amanda Harlech, explains what she finds exciting about being part of the Barbour history and the Barbour 'forever jacket'.
The Gold Label capsule takes inspiration from Amanda's fondness of equestrianism, country life and high fashion - culminating in a beautiful blend of soft leather, traditional tweed and elegant hemlines.


Home in South Shields

Barbour's South Shields home in the North East of England is something we're very proud of. It's nearby where it all started at 5 Market Place with John Barbour in 1894 and it's where our skilled teams continue to manufacture our classic original wax jackets. South Shield's proximity to the sea, the surrounding countryside, the harsh British weather and the border to the Highlands where John Barbour was born, all play a part in the Barbour story.


Spring Summer 2014

As Barbour has evolved over the years, so have our collections, and we’re now pleased to offer not just our famous wax jackets, but t-shirts, knitwear, shoes and accessories to suit all seasons, all inspired by our countryside heritage. From country capes to playful prints, our new Spring/Summer 2014 collections are perfect for long summer days spent rambling in hillsides, dancing at muddy festival weekenders or taking full-throttle day trips on the motorcycle.

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Meet Marian

Meet Marian, a local from Shields and one of our brilliantly skilled Barbour machinists, in this short film.


Barbour International, 211-214 Piccadilly.

The stars of music, fashion and motorcycling history descended on Piccadilly in London late in 2013 for the grand opening of the first dedicated Barbour International store. Complete with whisky tasting, music from The Vaccines' Freddie Cowan and guest appearances from British motorcycling legends Johnnie Brittain and Johnny Giles.

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Dame Margaret's Lifetime Achievement

In 2013 Dame Margaret celebrated 40 years as Chairman. She was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute of Directors. On accepting this prestigious award, Dame Margaret said “It is a great honour to be recognised in this way. I think my late husband, John Barbour, who was the fourth generation in the company that started in 1894, would be very proud of what I have achieved in fulfilling his legacy. However, I could not have done it by myself so this Award is really a testament to the hard work and dedication of all of my staff from the factory and warehouse through to my senior management team."


Barbour wins Drapers menswear brand of the year

In November 2012 Barbour took the prize for ‘Best Menswear Brand of the Year’ at London’s Grosvenor House. Barbour faced stiff competition, but the judging panel including menswear writer Eric Musgrave and Stylist’s Fashion Director Alex Fullerton, decided it was the British Heritage brand who should take home the award. Lauren Laverne, who presented the Barbour team with their award, mentioned she was an avid fan of the brand as her family live near the Barbour factory in South Shields.


Meet Liam

Liam started working at Barbour in 2012. In this short film, he gives an insight in to what it is like to work for a great British brand. 


Barbour's Wonder Woman

Dame Margaret Barbour was named one of Vogue's inspirational 'Wonder Women' in 2011 with a tribute to her, written by past Barbour collaborator and British Fashion Designer Anya Hindmarch, featuring in the magazine. From having established Barbour as one of the UK’s leading country outerwear companies, to guiding the business to becoming a global lifestyle brand, Anya describes Dame Margaret as a 'National Treasure'.

Photo credit: Jason Bell.

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Design Manager Gary Janes, Dame Margaret


The Festival Favourite

Rainy summers, muddy fields and shorts-with-wellies. The weather hasn't stopped us enjoying the annual summer music festivals, and back in a particularly wet summer in 2007, the Barbour made its mark as a festival stalwart when Lily Allen, Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys, TV presenter Alexa
Chung and Peaches Geldof were caught wrapped up in their Barbour wax jackets.

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Dame Commander of the British Empire

For her contribution to British industry, Margaret Barbour became a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2001 New Year’s Honours List. From the practical workmen’s clothes of the sea and countryside, Dame Margaret introduced knitwear, shirts, trousers, footwear and accessories alongside new fabrics including tweed and waterproof breathables. This transformed Barbour into the global lifestyle brand it is today while still remaining true to the principles on which the brand was founded, quality, attention to detail, durability and fitness for purpose. 


Vice Chairman Helen Barbour

Dame Margaret and John Barbour's daughter Helen continued the family lineage to the fifth generation when she became Vice Chairman of the company in 1997. As Vice Chairman, Helen’s responsibilities include attending Board meetings, product launches and meeting press and customers worldwide. Helen has been instrumental in re-launching the Barbour Sporting range, including designing and introducing a popular new dog-walking coat.


The Royal Warrant Holders Association

Dame Margaret Barbour was elected President of the Royal Warrant Holders Association. The Association, which deals with all providers of the Royal Family - from phone lines to food to overcoats, began in the early 19th Century with just 25 members, after a long tradition of rewarding businesses that showed loyalty and excellence. Now with 800 members, the Association grants training scholarships and encourages British craftmanship. 


Margaret Barbour CBE

Margaret Barbour was honoured with the award of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to industry in the 1991 Queen's Birthday Honours list. The CBE is the third most important honour a person can be awarded by the Queen. Margaret Barbour was awarded the title for the company's export acheivements and her successful effort in making Barbour a global name.


The Barbour Foundation

The Barbour Foundation (originally known as The Barbour Trust) was established in 1988 by Dame Margaret, to support cultural, women's and community projects in the North East, as well as national and international disaster, social and economic issues. Since its inception, the Foundation has made grants of upwards of £11.25million. Recent projects supported include the restoration of Seaton Delaval Hall, The Theatre Royal in Newcastle, Newcastle University Faculty of Medical Sciences and North East charities including Cancer Connections and Chin Up.


The Third Royal Warrant

In addition to those received in 1974 and 1982 from H.R.H The Duke of Edinburgh and Her Majesty The Queen, Barbour received the third Royal Warrant for 'Waterproof and Protective Clothing' by H.R.H Prince Charles in 1987.


Introducing Carol

Introducing Carol, a Production Line Team Leader at Barbour, who's been with us for 28 years. She's worked her way up from a role as a skilled Machinist to a brilliant Team Leader and is just one of the many friendly faces on the factory floor. She knows Barbour inside out, and we're very proud to have her on the team.


The Beaufort

Primarily designed as a shooting jacket, the Beaufort was developed in 1982, and was first sold and presented in the collection in 1983. The style and design of the Beaufort was inspired by Margaret Barbour's visits to France, where shooting jackets tended to be more stylish and have more features than those popular in the UK. One of the iconic jackets that made Barbour a household name, the Beaufort continues to be a bestseller and is still made in our factory in South Shields. 


The Second Royal Warrant

In 1982, in addition to the first Royal Warrant in 1974, Barbour was awarded a second Royal Warrant by Her Majesty the Queen for 'waterproof and protective clothing'. 



In 1981, Barbour moved to a new factory in Simonside, in a location not too far from where the first factory and the first Barbour shop in 5 Market Place, South Shields were. Many of Barbour’s classic wax jacket styles are all still made in Simonside today, where our Factory, Repairs Department and Headquarters still reside. Just down the road from Barbour HQ is the famous Red Beacon, also known as The Groyne, which features on vintage Barbour labels.


Black and Yellow

In 1980, the now iconic black and yellow badge was first introduced to Barbour International jackets. The black and yellow badge took inspiration from the 1953 Vincent Owners Club partnership, with Barbour outfitting the owners of the 'World's Fastest Standard Motorcycle'. The International jacket was dyed black and together with the traditional brass press studs, mirrored the black and gold colour scheme of the bikes. 


The First Royal Warrant

In 1974, Barbour received a Royal Warrant for Waterproof and Protective clothing from His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. Awarded to companies around the world that provide the Royal Family with products or services, the Royal Warrants are recognised as a mark of quality around the world from the United States, throughout Europe, to Asia.


Chairman Margaret Barbour

Margaret Barbour threw her energy into transforming the Barbour company and in 1973, Margaret was made Chairman. It was her careful attention, thoughtful guidance and brave decisions that led Barbour from a practical countryside brand to the global lifestyle brand it is today.


Margaret Barbour

Margaret Barbour was made a member of the Board of Directors in 1968. After the tragic and sudden death of her husband John Barbour, Margaret Barbour felt it was her duty to continue the family business. Previously, Margaret had been a school teacher, and had not been involved in running the Barbour business. In those days, Barbour did not have the sizeable design team and design processes that we have today, so Margaret worked directly with the factory floor.


The Loss of John Barbour

1968 saw the sudden and tragic death of John Barbour, Managing Director of the company. He left his 28-year-old widow Margaret and their two-year-old daughter Helen. John first became involved in the company aged 19, alongside Malcolm and Nancy.


Nancy Barbour becomes chairman

At age 83, Malcolm Barbour died and daughter-in-law Nancy Barbour took the role of Chairman with her son John as Managing Director. Together they continued to produce weatherproof outdoor clothing for both the military and civilians. The Ursula suit was named after the U-class submarine, Ursula whose commander Captain George Philips was instrumental in getting the suits produced.  


Steve McQueen

En route to the 1964 International Six Day Trials (ISDT) in East Germany, actor Steve McQueen and the rest of the US motorcycle racing team stopped by in London to pick up a Barbour International Suit each for the race. The International Suit became an ISDT mainstay, with 70% of all racers wearing it one year. Steve McQueen's effortless cool style married with the spirit of Barbour International perfectly, so in 2011, we launched our first Barbour International Steve McQueen Collection to pay tribute to our famous fan during the 75th Anniversary year of Barbour International.


Solway Smock

The Solway Smock, described by The Angling Times as ‘the ideal wildfowlers garment’ was an important stepping stone in Barbour’s journey. It sparked one of the lasting signature country looks and defined Barbour’s enduring mantra ‘Fitness for Purpose’. 



Barbour moved into the Simonside Trading Estate on the outskirts of South Shields and built a manufacturing plant in 1957. After 63 years of being a retailer, Barbour became manufacturers and marketers. The North East - with its close proximity to the sea, the countryside, Scotland and the rest of England - is Barbour's home. It's what inspired the first oilcloth jackets and it's where our functional, positive spirit comes from. It's where our HQ and Factory still reside today and where many of our classic wax jacket styles are still made by hand.


John Barbour Joins

When Duncan Barbour sadly died aged just 48 in 1957, his father Malcolm Barbour took charge once again together with Duncan's wife Nancy and her son John, then aged just 19. Duncan's legacy of Barbour's motorcycling heritage is a significant part of the company today, and his love of racing and riding continues in Barbour International.


(Pre-Solway) Thornproof Poncho Smock

The Thornproof Poncho Smock is a one of a kind in the Barbour archive. Likely to be a special order from 1952, it closely resembles the Solway Smock and was made specifically for wildfowling.


The War

In 1939, conscription played its part in the Barbour family as Duncan Barbour was called to service. Duncan's father Malcolm, who was Chairman of the business, and Duncan's wife Nancy took over the running of the business.


The Ursula

In 1937, Captain George Philips took command of the HMS Ursula submarine.  Unsatisfied with the standard issue Royal Navy uniform for submariners, Capt. Philips commissioned and paid for Barbour two piece suits for the whole HMS Ursula crew.  The ‘Ursula’ suit as it was known, became standard issue for members of the Submarine service and went on to influence later iterations of the eponymous Barbour International biker jacket.


Barbour International is Born

Duncan Barbour, a keen motorcyclist, introduced a motorcycling range that quickly took off. Virtually every British International racing team wore Barbour suits for over 40 years. In 1957, 97% of riders at the International Six Day Trials wore Barbour Internationals. 


The Beacon Thornproof Short Coat

The clasp fastening Beacon Thornproof coat appeared two years after Barbour first introduced ‘Thornproof’ fabric in 1930. In 1933 it was listed as the Short Coat and it remained in the range until it was removed due to war rationing in 1941. It reappeared in 1946 and was back on sale a year later as the Three Quarter Coat until it was updated in 1958/9.


Beacon Thornproof Riding Coat

Introduced in 1930, this jacket used the pioneering Thornproof wax that gave Barbour an impeccable reputation. 


Duncan Barbour

Malcolm Barbour's only son, Duncan, joined Barbour in 1928, having learnt his trade at Bainbridge’s, Newcastle’s biggest department store. Duncan was to have a great impact on the company and the future of Barbour, extending what Barbour stood for and how the functional, practical fabrics and outerwear designs could be used elsewhere.


Malcolm Barbour

Malcolm was the first of the Barbour family to produce the now famous catalogues, taking great care to design and distribute them to customers around the world. It was his idea to broaden the reach of Barbour, with original catalogues advertising long coats, boots and safari gear as well as the traditional workwear. The front covers of the catalogues are now iconic, and still inspire collections, cuts and designs today.


Jack Barbour

When the founder John Barbour died in July 1918, the company was then passed on to his son, Malcom Barbour. In 24 years, John's company, Barbour, had grown from just an idea to a fully-functioning and popular clothing company. 


J Barbour & Sons

Barbour became J Barbour & Sons Ltd in 1912, when founder John Barbour's sons Jack and Malcolm became the Managing Directors. It was the start of the traditional family business that has lasted through the line into the fifth generation today.


Haydon Jacket

Originally introduced in 1911, the Barbour Haydon Jacket remained available as the slightly modified Haydon Coat until 1936. Constructed with fine oilskin, the garment offered a unique soft feel and residue resistance. Its design was ideally suited to fishing and general country life.


Findlay Cape

A cornerstone of the early Barbour range, the Findlay Cape design first appeared in 1910, in lightweight Sylkoil cotton, black only, and went through a series of transitions until its last appearance in 1931.


The Barbour Catalogues

In 1908 Malcolm Barbour, John Barbour's son, produced the first mail order catalogue. By 1917 the catalogue accounted for almost 75% of Barbour’s business including international orders from as far away as Chile, South Africa and Hong Kong. Today, these catalogues prove to be fantastically important, inspiring the creation of new products derived from the stories in our rich heritage.


Birth of a Brand

120 years ago, Barbour was founded in the port of South Shields by John Barbour, a Scotsman who saw a need for waterproof, reliable, hardwearing outerwear amongst working communities of the North East. Previously, fishermen had used stiff, badly wearing jackets coated with tar and fish oils. The introduction of oilcloth meant a softer, more comfortable jacket with the same water repellency and added longevity. 

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About John Barbour: Dame Margaret