Discovering Barbour workshops
Barbour's story began in 1894 when John Harbour opened a store in South Shields in the North East of England, selling practical and durable oilskins that offered protection against Britain the harshest British Weather.
Now the 5th generation family company has adopted the same principles on which the company was founded by selling high quality cloths suitable for outdoor use.
Well-kept Barbour's jacket are often generationally transmitted. The oldest jacket returned to Barbour workshop was made in 1910 and is still in excellent condition! There's a quote by Barbour that says "sooner or later, jackets will always come home."
The Barbour factory
The Barbour factory is based in South Shields, about 6 km away from Newcastle. The factory produced around 3,000 classic polished jackets every week based on over 50 different style ranges. Between 110,000 and 120,000 jackets are being produced annually.
Each machinist manufactures the weekly equivalent of 25 jackets. Each jacket takes about 60-95 minutes to make, depending on both style and detail.
It takes a total of 36 people to make a Barbour jacket from start to finish:
- 6 people for cutting
- 4 people for preparation
- 20 people on the work line
- 4 people for finishing
- 1 team leader
- 1 person for quality control
The story of a Barbour jacket
The material is cut into sheets and then a shape is applied to a stack of sheets and cut with a sharp blade.
The cut pieces are gathered ready to become jackets. More complex work is carried out before the jacket reaches the work line. Then a label is sewn on.
The collar is prepared and then the jackets are made on the main work line.
The jackets are sent from the main work line to be finished. Studs and fasteners are applied and a final quality inspection is carried out.
The different Barbour tartans
Both Lady Margaret and Helen called on the leading tartan experts, Kinloch Anderson in Edinburgh. The latter undertook extensive investigations and discovered that the family name Barbour originated in Ayrshire on the west coast of Scotland in the 13th century. It was therefore agreed with Kinloch Anderson that Barbour's exclusive tartans should be based on the tartan in the Ayrshire district.
In 1998, in partnership with Kinloch Anderson, Barbour developed the Classic tartan, the first Barbour exclusive tartan.
In 2002, Barbour Dress tartan was designed with Kinloch Anderson, in the same design but in traditional white tones. The inspiration for the tartan Dress dates back to 18th century women's fashion, when women usually wore large white or cream tartan scarves.
Nowadays, Barbour has several exclusive tartans that are largely used in all their collections as jacket linings, shirt designs, polo shirts, shoes and accessories making Barbour products instantly recognizable.
The classic Barbour jackets
Designed by President Dame Margaret Barbour, the Bedale jacket was launched in 1980. Lightweight, durable and short, the Bedale was originally designed as an equestrian jacket, the shorter length being ideal for riding.
The name comes from the Yorkshire country town. Made from 6oz. medium weight waxed cotton, the jacket features a zipper with the option of adding a lining and hood, making it a perfect jacket for all year round. A classic jacket for everyone.
The style and design of the Beaufort jacket was inspired by Lady Margaret's visits to France, where shooting jackets tended to have more features and style than was usually the case in the UK. The most successful shooting jackets of the time were shorter and had full width back pockets (called "carnier" in French). The name, Beaufort was chosen to emphasize the continental nature of the piece.
The Ashby is one of the best-selling wax jackets for men. The Ashby jacket is a more contemporary version of the Bedale model. It is a perfect wax option for the fashion forward man looking for a classic look with a modern style. Medium weight 6 oz. of wax with adjustable lining and hood.
The Beadnell jacket is named after a small fishing village in Northumberland. Beadnell is the female model of the iconic Bedale. A classic style made from traditional and durable 6 oz. medium weight waxed cotton. Features a corduroy sit collar, classic tartan lining and a multitude of pockets for all your storage needs. The extra lining and hood make the Beadnell an everyday jacket for all seasons.
Article written by Manon C.