J. Barbour and Sons

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J. Barbour & Sons Ltd.
TypePrivately held company
IndustryRetail, Clothing Manufacturing
FoundedSouth Shields, England (1894 (1894))
FounderJohn Barbour
Simonside, South Shields
United Kingdom
Number of locations
30+ retail stores
Area served
Key people
  • Margaret Barbour, Chairman
  • Steve Buck, managing director
  • Helen Barbour, Vice Chair
  • Bedale Jacket
  • Beaufort Jacket
  • A7 Barbour International Jacket
ServicesRepair, reproofing
Revenue£225m for YE 30 April 2019

J. Barbour & Sons Ltd is a British luxury and lifestyle brand founded by John Barbour in 1894, that designs, manufactures and markets waxed cotton outerwear, ready-to-wear, clothing, footwear and accessories for men, women, and children under the Barbour and Barbour International brands. Founded in South Shields, England, as an importer of oil cloth, J. Barbour and Sons Ltd has become well known for its waxed cotton jackets which are a common element of British country clothing. The company's waxed cotton jackets are so well known that some people refer to any waxed cotton jacket as a "Barbour jacket", irrespective of manufacturer.[1] J. Barbour and Sons Ltd holds royal warrant to supply "waterproof and protective clothing" from the Duke of Edinburgh in 1974, Queen Elizabeth II in 1982, and Charles, Prince of Wales in 1987.[2] Since July 2016, Scottish actor Sam Heughan is Barbour's First Global Brand Ambassador.[3]


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.

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]


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

In addition to its waxed and quilted jackets, J. Barbour & Sons Ltd is famous for sweaters, moleskin clothing, corduroy clothing, and tattersall shirts. Barbour has also 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 has successfully 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.

Despite traditional connotations with rural life, Barbour jackets saw increased popularity as an urban fashion item in the 2010s decade.[4] In 2010s Barbour collaborated with several notable urban fashion brands including WoodWood, AlexaChung, and White Mountaineering.[5]


The pocket of a green Barbour jacket showing wear.

Some customers keep Barbour waxed jackets for years, sometimes decades. Among such people, the wear-and-tear on the garment can be addressed by Barbour's repair service, which patches and reinforces jackets. J. Barbour and Sons Ltd repairs and rewaxes a total of 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 departments and specialty stores worldwide.

In Popular Culture[edit]

Barbour's distinctive waxed jackets and coats have appeared in numerous films with one of the most noteworthy being in 2012's Skyfall, in which James Bond, played by Daniel Craig wears a modified Barbour jacket.[6] Barbour has a long-standing line of clothing inspired by actor and avid motorcycle racer Steve McQueen, who was known for exclusively wearing Barbour during races.[7]


  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". www.barbour.com.
  4. ^ Bakare, Lanre (1 March 2012). "Why city kids like me are on the hunt for Barbour". The Guardian.
  5. ^ "Barbour X Wood Wood Collaboration Collection". Barbour Blog. 24 September 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  6. ^ Wolf, Cam. "This Might Be the Most Influential Menswear Outfit in Movie History". GQ. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  7. ^ Hallemann, Caroline (23 August 2019). "Barbour Launches a New Collection Inspired By Steve McQueen". Town & Country. Retrieved 31 January 2020.

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