J. Barbour & Sons Ltd is a British clothing manufacturer best known for their enduring, high quality waterproof and outdoor clothing most associated with outdoor and country pursuits.
Barbour clothing is noted for rugged construction and appearance and in addition to its waxed and quilted jackets, the company produces sweaters, moleskin clothing, corduroy clothing, and tattersall shirts. It has also entered the “waterproof-breathable” market with own type waterproof liners, cordura external fabric and polar fleece sweaters.
The firm has a reputation for high quality, hard-wearing clothing. It holds royal warrants of appointment to supply “waterproof and protective clothing” from HM Queen Elizabeth II, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, and HRH The Prince of Wales.
Barbour clothing is noted for rugged construction and appearance. In addition to its iconic waxed and quilted jackets, the company produces sweaters, moleskin clothing, corduroy clothing, and tattersall shirts.
It has also entered the “waterproof-breathable” market and has developed its own type waterproof liners, cordura external fabric and polar fleece sweaters.
The founder of the company was John Barbour who was born in 1849 and raised on a farm in Galloway, in the west of Scotland.
Aged 20, he left the family farm to try his luck further south across the border in the north east of England in a port town called South Shields, where in 1870 he started business as a traveling draper. A year later, he married his childhood sweetheart, Margaret Haining and together they had 11 children. It is said it was his wife who gave him the encouragement and belief to start J Barbour & Sons in 1894 , setting up shop in 5 Market Place, South Shields.
The shop sold all manner of products loosely described as ‘drapery’ including fishermans outerwear, boiler suits, painter’s jackets, through to underwear and the business flourished.
Barbour derived an important part of its income from the ship-owners, ship builders and seamen of the famous port, supplying Beacon brand oilskin coats designed to appeal to the growing community of sailors, fishermen, river, dock and shipyard workers from the worst of the formidable – often wet and cold northern weather.
The business passed to his sons and the first mail order catalogue produced in April 1908, by son Malcolm Barbour, was twelve pages long and included drawings of its iconic jackets and oilskin clothing.
By 1917, the mail order catalogue accounted for almost 75% of Barbour’s business including international orders from as far away as Chile, South Africa and Hong Kong.
Barbour continues to produce traditional waterproofed sporting outerwear now complimented with fashion ranges with wide appeal.