Barbour International: A History of The Signature Barbour Jacket
John Barbour and Sons has come an awful long way from its humble beginnings as a manufacturer for seamen and dock workers. From its origins in the early 20th century in the harsh conditions of the North East of England, it’s enduring appeal and commitment to functional outerwear has seen it grow into a true global giant of the fashion industry. From providing workwear for those on harsh climes of the North Sea, to being sported by Alex Turner as the Artic Monkey’s play the pyramid stage at Glastonbury, Barbour holds a truly special place in British style.
But just how did this functional working man’s jacket move away from the dock yards and make its way into the wardrobes of the fashionistas? The shift began when in 1980 Barbour launched the catalogue for its new collection. One of the photographs used pictured a young couple in ‘country gent’ attire, Barbour jackets, tweed caps and wellington boots. It sparked the notion of the ‘Sloane Ranger’. A term often attributed to Princess Diana, herself a keen Barbour jacket fan, the ‘Sloane Ranger’ was by stereotype a young aspirational woman, seeking to establish themselves firmly in the upper class realms of middle England. An outlook defined by 1980’s Britain and the Thatcher era.
Barbour’s gritty image was not wholly reserved for shipyard workers and fisherman. Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, Barbour had become one of the first brands to produce motorcycle clothing and in 1936 launched the first of its famous ‘Barbour International’ jackets.
Featuring four front pockets including a slanted one situated on the chest for a map, the jackets featured a belt and usually came with Barbour’s much heralded wax finish. The Barbour International jacket owes much of its appeal to its most famous wearer, Steve McQueen. A true style icon for men across the globe. The jacket was worn by every British National Motorcycle team up until 1977 but in 1964, it was McQueen and his American team that wore it in a way that would go down in style history. It was donned by McQueen in the ISDT race of that year and it is McQueen’s endearing image that has seen the brand continue to use this heritage up until this very day.
Here at Repertoire fashion we have a whole range of Barbour Internationals jackets for men.