Barbour (company)

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J. Barbour & Sons Ltd.
Founded1894; 129 years ago (1894) in South Shields, England
FounderJohn Barbour
Simonside, South Shields
Number of locations
30+ retail stores
Area served
Key people
  • Margaret Barbour (Chairman)
  • Steve Buck (managing director)
  • Helen Barbour (Vice Chair)
  • Outerwear
  • ready-to-wear
  • footwear
  • accessories
Revenue£225 million for YE 30 April 2019

J. Barbour & Sons Ltd is an English luxury and lifestyle brand founded by John Barbour in 1894 that designs, manufactures and markets waxed cotton outerwear, ready-to-wear, footwear and accessories under the Barbour and Barbour International brands. Founded in South Shields, England, as an importer of oil cloth, J. Barbour and Sons Ltd became known for its waxed cotton jackets, a common element of British country clothing; some refer to any waxed cotton jacket, regardless of brand, as a "Barbour jacket".[1] J. Barbour and Sons Ltd holds royal warrants for the supply of ‘waterproof and protective clothing’ from the Duke of Edinburgh (1974), Queen Elizabeth II (1982) and King Charles III (1987).[2]


John Barbour, a native of Galloway, Scotland, founded J. Barbour and Sons Ltd in South Shields, England, in 1894 as an importer of oil-cloth.[2] John's grandson Duncan, a keen motorcyclist, would also take the company in that direction during his tenure as Barbour became the originator of waxed cotton motorcycling suits and jackets.

The headquarters for J. Barbour and Sons Ltd at the time of its foundation was located at 5 Market Place, South Shields and the company remains in South Shields today having occupied its current site since the 1980s.

Since July 2016, Scottish actor Sam Heughan is Barbour's First Global Brand Ambassador.[3]


Since the incorporation of J. Barbour & Sons as a limited company in 1912, the company has always been led by a member of the Barbour family. The company is currently led by the family's fourth generation, Dame Margaret Barbour, who took over in 1973 after the death of her mother-in-law, Nancy Barbour. The family's fifth generation is represented by Helen Barbour, who has been the Vice Chair since 1997 and is next in line for the chairmanship.[4]

List of chairmen[edit]

  1. John Barbour (1912–1927)
  2. Malcolm Barbour (1927–1964)
  3. Nancy Barbour (1964–1973)
  4. Dame Margaret Barbour (since 1973)


Modern Barbour 'Stockman' coat
A men's waxed cotton Barbour jacket in green

In addition to its waxed and quilted jackets, J. Barbour & Sons Ltd is famous for sweaters, moleskin clothing, corduroy clothing, and tattersall shirts. Barbour entered the "waterproof-breathable" market with its own type of waterproof liners, Cordura external fabric, and polar fleece sweaters. Some Barbour products contain outdoor-orientated features such as snug-fitting collars, "storm cuffs", waterproof pockets with drainage holes, and wide "game" pockets. In recent years, the company modernized its collections to appeal to a younger clientele while maintaining credibility with the traditional countryside customer. Many of the more fashionable ranges are influenced by the "Barbour International" motorcycling ranges. Taking inspiration from the company's 1936 waxed cotton motorcycling suit and the 1951 "Original Green" motorcycling jacket, modern collections are fashionable interpretations of the companies heritage in bikes. While the traditional waxed cotton jackets are still manufactured in Simonside, South Shields, some of the other products are manufactured outside the United Kingdom.[2]

Despite traditional connotations with rural life, Barbour jackets saw increased popularity as an urban fashion item in the 2010s decade.[5] In 2010s Barbour collaborated with several urban fashion brands including Wood Wood, Ally Capellino[6] and White Mountaineering.[7]


Pocket of a green Barbour jacket showing wear

Wear-and-tear on Barbour garments can be addressed by Barbour's repair service, which patches and reinforces jackets. J. Barbour and Sons Ltd repairs and rewaxes over 25,000 jackets annually at the Simonside, South Shields and other facilities.[2]

Aside from offering merchandise within Barbour retail stores, Barbour wholesales all of its collections to many upscale shops worldwide.

In popular culture[edit]

Barbour's waxed jackets and coats have appeared in 2012's Skyfall, in which James Bond, played by Daniel Craig wears a modified Barbour jacket.[8] Barbour has a long-standing line of clothing inspired by actor and avid motorcycle racer Steve McQueen, who exclusively wore Barbour during races.[9]


  1. ^ Ellwood, Iain (2002). The essential brand book: over 100 techniques to increase brand value. p. 175. ISBN 9780749438630. Customers ask for a Barbour wax cotton jacket, even though they may actually buy an alternative brand.
  2. ^ a b c d "A History of J Barbour & Sons Ltd". J. Barbour and Sons Ltd. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Introducing Sam Heughan - Barbour's First Global Brand Ambassador".
  4. ^ "The next chapter in the bestselling Barbour family story". Drapers. 30 October 2019.
  5. ^ Bakare, Lanre (1 March 2012). "Why city kids like me are on the hunt for Barbour". The Guardian.
  6. ^ "Barbour x Ally Capellino". High Snobiety. 3 March 2022. Retrieved 14 May 2022.
  7. ^ "Barbour x Wood Wood Collaboration Collection". Barbour Blog. 24 September 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  8. ^ Wolf, Cam (7 April 2018). "This Might Be the Most Influential Menswear Outfit in Movie History". GQ. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  9. ^ Hallemann, Caroline (23 August 2019). "Barbour Launches a New Collection Inspired By Steve McQueen". Town & Country. Retrieved 31 January 2020.

External links[edit]