Given Britain’s penchant for conversations that revolve around the weather – a notion that borders the obsessive – it makes sense, generally speaking, that many of its most revered fashion houses and clothing labels take the ever-mercurial climes into account when creating items. Chief among these ventures is Barbour, the perennially popular brand that has not only become synonymous with rural style and countryside dressing, but, as a result, has found its way into the wardrobes of festival-goers, outdoors enthusiasts, the front-row crowd and members of the royal household.
Set up by John Barbour in 1894, in South Shields, a coastal town in north-east England, the company’s initial purpose was to produce robust outerwear for sailors, mariners and fishermen – but, in the decades since, its collections have spanned from practical country attire to contemporary lines that re-interpret and rework classic pieces.
As is the case with the crewneck white T-Shirt, the loopback sweatshirt and a navy two-piece, several of Barbour’s designs have achieved wardrobe-hero status – the Barbour Ashby Wax Jacket, coveted for its tailored fit and all-seasons practicality, and the equestrian-style Barbour Chelsea Sportsquilt Jacket among them – and, this year, the brand is celebrating four decades of one of its most emblematic products, the Beaufort Wax Jacket.
Heavily responsible for making Barbour a household name, the Beaufort – which was first developed in 1982, then presented to the public the following year – is the work of Dame Margaret Barbour, who took influence from the shooting jackets seen in France, which often had a stronger style and more features – such as the carnier, a full-width rear game pocket – than those in England.
Though its style roots may be found across the Channel, the Beaufort has taken on a distinctly British flavour, becoming synonymous with the countryside and bucolic landscapes located within these shores. Crafted in Barbour’s factory, in South Shields, it has long been renowned as a practical, fit-for-purpose wardrobe staple whose hallmarks include its soft brown corduroy collar; distinguishable two-way chunky zip; large bellow pockets; tartan-print inner lining; and, perhaps most significantly, its olive-tone waxed cotton outer.
So, to mark 40 years since its introduction to the world, Barbour has produced a limited-edition version of the jacket, which carries all the features of the original, but with the addition of a back neck label marking the 40th anniversary, and studs that are engraved with ‘Beaufort 40’, with such details adding a subtle, contemporary feel to a traditional, heritage-style creation.
In addition to this celebratory piece – which is available in three colourways: navy, sage and olive – and to underline the durability and longevity of the original jacket, 40 Barbour Re-Loved Beauforts will also be produced, an effort that will comprise taking old jackets and cleaning, re-waxing and repairing them, which, in effect will create a bevy of unique and desirable pieces.
These releases come as part of an overarching Evergreen Icons campaign, which emphasises the long-lasting appeal of Barbour’s classic wax jackets, including the Bedale, Border, Ashby and Beadnell.
“The Beaufort jacket’s classic design and enduring style signifies a timeless quality that transcends fashion trends. Its permanence has always been its appeal for me – classic doesn’t mean standing still, and I love that the Beaufort’s context changes with the times,” says fashion designer Charlie Casely-Hayford, who, along with three other of the brand’s friends, has a personal relationship with the Beaufort and appreciates its evergreen, cross-generational qualities. “It’s sustainability credentials were there long before it became a buzzword – it represents a commitment to enduring, high-quality clothing,” he adds.
“Together with our other traditional wax jackets, the Beaufort continues to remain popular across the globe; these jackets become part of your life and experiences, and our customers regularly share stories with us about the memories their jackets have evoked,” says Paul Wilkinson, Barbour’s group commercial director. “Through our Wax for Life programme [an initiative that includes re-waxing and repairing], our Evergreen Icons, if re-waxed regularly, will last a long, long time and can be passed down through the generations for many years to come, making them a very sustainable choice.”
Barbour 40th Anniversary Beaufort Classic Navy
Barbour 40th Anniversary Beaufort Sage
Barbour 40th Anniversary Beaufort Olive
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