Olive green, navy blue or brown, the iconic waxed cotton garment to be rediscovered for this autumn.
Its most iconic color is olive green, but the Barbour is such a recognizable garment that it also comes in a navy blue, brown or black version. Tartan lining, waxed cotton, zipper, large pockets, internal knitted cuffs. In 128 years of history, this jacket has become so recognizable that every detail refers to a certain way of living free time, with elegance, ease, but also a great practical sense. Queen Elizabeth knew it well, and for her long stays in Balmoral, often rainy, she preferred it to any other garment as "the best jacket for the worst weather", as she recited a famous slogan of the past.
In a certain sense it can be said that Barbour's fortune, at least in the royal family, must be traced back to The Queen who, passionate about horseback riding, country walks and outdoor activities, found it to be the ideal outerwear for her days with her children, especially in the sleeveless version.
Just as Princess Anne, Lady Diana and then Kate Middleton would have done years later, who in so many style choices seems to want to keep her memory alive.
And to think that originally, when John Barbour opened his company in 1894, the production involved only oilskin and protective clothing for sailors, fishermen and port workers of the North Sea, all fabrics that are sold on the stalls of the markets of Simonside, in South Shields, at popular prices.
These work fabrics, in a certain sense equivalent to our jeans - for those who do not know the name derives from the French bleu de Gênes or "blue of Genoa" because the first examples spread right from the 16th century from the Maritime Republic -, they like them so much that they gradually spread on a large scale. Gradually the fortune of this garment grew and in 1908 Malcolm Barbour, son of the founder, had the first mail order catalog printed. In 1917 the catalog represented nearly 75% of Barbour's business, including international orders from Chile, South Africa and Hong Kong. The company's products crossed national borders and were preparing to conquer the world.
A first turning point came in 1936 when Duncan Barbour, Malcom's only son, as a passionate motorcyclist that he was, introduces a line for riders with special suits that until 1977 became the uniform worn by practically any international team, when he then left the market. Meanwhile in 1939 Duncan is called up, so Malcolm and his daughter-in-law Nancy take over the management of the business, developing the Ursula suit, which is adopted by members of the British Submarine Service. The name derives from the U-class submarine, Ursula, whose commander, Captain George Philips, was instrumental in the production and dissemination of these suits.
The fame of the Barbour jacket also reaches Buckingham Palace, so much so that on 1 April 1974 it received the first Royal Warrant from the Duke of Edinburgh, Philip. This is the prestigious recognition granted to commercial activities or companies that for at least 5 consecutive years have provided services to the royal family. Eight years later, in 1982, a second arrives, this time from the queen. Meanwhile, the company diversifies its offer a lot, also launching its first short riding jacket, the Bedale to Elisabetta's delight. In 1987 the third Royal Warrant arrives from the Prince of Wales: the consecration is complete. Practical, functional and versatile, this jacket has been and continues to be the faithful companion of many adventures of the royal family ever since. Finding a vintage one on the second-hand stalls could be the next challenge this autumn.