Barbour: Old School or New Kid on The Block?
Barbour has already had its success story- from family run business beloved by farmers and fisherman to iconic British heritage brand worn by the royal family, with over a century of craftsmanship in waxed cotton jackets. Or perhaps it’s only just getting started?
You might associate Barbour with welly wearing, Jeep driving dads, but lately even fashion forward city kids are wearing the brand. In a bid to attract younger consumers, Barbour is expanding and evolving.
Don’t get me wrong, it still wants its loyal (and profitable) older customers, but these days it’s got something for everyone, even man’s best friend. Whilst staying true to its British countryside roots, Barbour is proving that it can stay relevant by creating modern content and partnering with some of the biggest names in streetwear.
Barbour x Palm Angels
2023 has been a busy year for Barbour, with one collab after the other. In October alone it released joint collections with Maison Kitsunè, C.P. Company and Palace, but let’s start with an earlier venture with Palm Angels in March.
Its Californian aesthetic emerges through co-ordinated tracksuits, graphic tees and bold colours, and the latter is exactly what it brought to the Barbour x Palm Angels collab- a rare sight to behold given Barbour’s usual preference for muted colours.
The duo focused their creative efforts toward releasing a single statement piece: the Palm Angels x Barbour Malik Bedale wax jacket. A revisitation of the original 1980 jacket that Barbour designed for equestrian pursuits, the new model embraces its riding history, but perhaps more spiritually than literally.
This version is most likely intended as a fashion statement rather than an actual riding jacket. They kept the classic tailoring whilst updating the look with three vibrant colourways; available in “Hot Pink,” “Scarlet Ibis,” and “Vibrant Yellow,” you’ll struggle to find other dyed wax jackets like these on the market.
The Palm Angels logo is spray-painted on the rear ahead of the waxing process, resembling branding marks found on horses. Each brand’s personality shines through and that’s often a sign of successful collaborations. However, while the jacket is structurally lightweight and practical, the in-your-face colours make the piece vulnerable to becoming a passing trend.
Barbour x Palace
Barbour caught itself a massive fish this autumn, teaming up with king of collabs and titan of streetwear, London-based skateboard label Palace.
Whilst bound to win brownie points from young style addicts and skaters, it remains to be seen whether customers will stick with Barbour beyond the Palace hype.
The campaign is filmed in a London barber shop, but beyond the wordplay, what’s impressive is Barbour’s smooth transition into London streetwear culture. The Bedale Jacket returns in this collection, with Barbour’s signature corduroy collar and tartan inner lining, and subtly applied camouflage on the outside (also available in black).
A great layering item, it’s understated yet still eye-catching thanks to the bold pattern combo. The Palace x Barbour Camo Dom Quilted Jacket features a chunkier silhouette, exposed pockets and bright orange interiors.
It has elements of the puffer coat (a streetwear staple) but sleeker, with ‘Barbouresque’ details. The collection is rounded out with a flying fish vest that recalls Barbour’s past and utilitarian streetwear, bucket hats and even a dog waxed cotton coat.
Palace co-founder Gareth Skewis believes necessity, diversity and authenticity are key to enduring style. With Barbour’s attention to practical outerwear and each brand’s adherence to its cultural heritage, this collection achieves all three.
Barbour x C.P. Company
This next partnership just makes sense in terms of brand compatibility and Barbour’s goals. Italian utility wear brand C.P. company shares Barbour’s dedication to high-quality, technical materials (Massimo Osti is also founder of Stone Island, one of the most renowned fabric innovators in the world), and its popularity with youngsters is unwavering.
The collaboration stars the Barbour x C.P. Company Creel wax jacket, which merges Barbour’s Bedale wax jacket with C.P. company’s iconic Mille Miglia Jacket with built-in goggles on the hood.
Earthy tones seen in the jackets are inspired by sheep breeds like Shetland and Manx Loaghtan, a nod to Barbour’s northern roots.
The joint expertise in functional clothing and fabric quality ensures that the pieces will be long lasting and worth the investment. Plus, the goggle jacket has already proved to be a fan favourite time and time again.
Who doesn’t like quirky detail?
Barbour x Maison Kitsune
Lastly, Barbour’s collaboration with French Japanese fashion house Maison Kitsuné is a return to its comfort zone, with more designs you would typically expect from a British heritage brand.
It’s said to be a fresh take on utilitarian essentials: highlights include reversable waxed jackets and bucket hats, but the star of the show is Kitsuné’s fox mascot, who shows up on hoodies and T-shirts with some serious Fantastic Mr. Fox energy in their own personalised Barbour ‘fits.
The collection is marketed to a young audience; nonetheless, the pieces are wearable and suitable for a wide age range. Unlike the other collaborations, this is one’s for the preppy style lovers out there.
It’s clear that Barbour wants to cover all bases: countryside and city, young and mature, tradition and innovation. It’s doing a pretty good job so far, and there will be many more collabs to come that will further shape the identity of the brand. Will it keep up with the continuing pressures of innovation without losing sight of its core values? We’ll have to wait and see.
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