Men and women’s outdoors activities and country sport clothing is the basic definition of the universally known clothing brand ‘Barbour’. But do people really know where this classy vintage brand came from? And the history behind he fashion…
1849 – The birth of the soon to be legend, John Barbour.
1870 – John started his business as a travelling draper.
1871 – John married his childhood sweetheart Margaret Haining.
1894 – The love of Margaret encouraged John to start J Barbour & Sons. He set up his future at 5 Market Place, South Shields.
1906 – By this year the business was very popular and John employed his two sons Jack and Malcolm, making them equal partners.
1908– The first Barbour catalogue was made by the youngest son Malcolm. The popularity of the clothing line then grew from seaman to farmers and fishermen.
1917 – The mail order catalogue accounted for almost 75% of the business, including international orders. From as far away as Hong Kong.
7 July 1918 – John unfortunately died on this tragic day, and the business was taken over by Jack Barbour.
1927 – Jack resigned leaving Malcolm to run the business.
1919 – Malcolm took the business to new heights introducing Barbour’s Buying Agency. This was often very challenging, but reinforced the strong relationship the Barbour’s had for their customers.
1928 – Duncan Barbour, Malcolm’s only son joined the business.
First World War – During this tragic period in time, the demand for Barbour clothing was high.
1929 – This was the year of The Great Depression, the company’s sales fell significantly.
1935 – The economy started to pick up and Barbour started making a profit again.
1930’s – Duncan Barbour was a keen motorcyclist and introduced a motorcyclist clothing line that quickly took off. A great achievement for Barbour, as virtually every British International team from 1936 to 1977 wore the brand.
Second World War – Barbour again produced weatherproof outdoor clothing for both the military and civilians.
1945 – The business expanded because the existing shop was too small. So Barbour built a manufacturing plant.
August 1957 – Barbour moved to the Simonside Trading Estate on the outskirts of South Shields and after 63 years of being a retailer, Barbour became manufacturers and marketers.
15 June 1958 – Duncan sadly never got to see the manufacturing plant, as having overseen all the plans for the factory; he collapsed and died, age 48. Malcolm again took over.
1964 – Malcolm Barbour died age 83 and Nancy Barbour (Malcolm’s wife) took over the role of Chairman with John as Joint Managing Director.
June 1968 – Tragically, while on holiday, John suffered a brain hemorrhage and died, leaving behind his young widow. It was left to Margaret who up until this point had no real involvement in Barbour, to take control of the company’s future.
1970’s – sales were rising.
1973 – the company took the decision to discontinue all direct selling. The famous catalogues would continue but would now be used to support the product range; dealers and sales agents with the focus on country wear.
1974 – Barbour received the first Royal Warrant by the Duke of Edinburgh.
The lightweight Border jacket made way for smart casual wear, people began to wear Barbour for general everyday activities.
August 1981 – Barbour moved into a new factory in Simonside.
1982 – Barbour received the second Royal Warrant by Her Majesty the Queen. The queen is renowned for her love of Barbour.
1987 – The third Royal Warrant was awarded by HRH the Prince of Wales.
1988 – The Barbour Trust was set up to support local and national projects.
1990’s – The business continued to expand internationally. New collections of a range of different coloured wax jackets.
1992, 1994 and 1995 – Barbour won three Queens Awards for Export Achievement.
1999 – The first Barbour shop in shop opened.
2004 – Barbour began to work with Lord James Percy, younger brother of the Duke of Northumberland and designed marketing of its flagship shooting clothing.
2005 – The Northumberland Range won the Shooting Industry Award for best clothing product
2008 – The Linhope 3-in-1 won the Shooting Industry Award for best clothing product.
Today – Although Barbour is international, Barbour’s classic wax jackets are still manufactured by hand in the factory in Simonside and each year over 100,000 jackets are made.
There are now over 2,000 products across the two seasons and the collections now also cater for Ladies and Children. Young fashionistas, keep a watchful eye on Barbour as it has been tipped for a modern trendy look