As some of our readers may know, my mother and her mother and her mother before her have all been descendants of the British Empire. In other words, I’m from England. Not just from England but from South Shields: a tiny town of seaside fare, simple pleasures and small town nature. But South Shields has made a name for itself in a brand that has yet to entirely penetrate North America. This brand is known as Barbour.
Born in 1894 in South Sheilds by John Barbour, its classic wax jackets are still manufactured in the flagship shop located in Simonside. Described as bringing “wit, grit and glamour to its beautifully functional clothing”, it is surprising that Barbour hasn’t been the next big thing in Canada. Designed to reflect the countryside, the huntsman and the outdoorsy type, this clothing (and particularly their jackets) are a potential staple of the Canadian wardrobe, for both men and women.
Despite it’s meager beginnings, Barbour has really found its niche in hipster Britain, with many indie folk donning the garments, sporting national pride and shunning Burberry’s elitism. One U.K. journalist put the Barbour trend simply,
“Barbour is succeeding where Burberry went wrong by inviting everyone to wear one of its jackets rather than vainly trying to limit them to just an elite few.” – Lanre Bakare
And that’s exactly what Barbour offers: accessible, high fashion. And what’s more is that, I think, Barbour is a perfect match to Canadiana. Our lifestyles encourage this type of style and it surprises me that more Canadians haven’t adopted the trend. Although, Canada has been known for being slightly behind the times once or twice…
When first spotted as a fashion statement almost 20 years ago, Barbour went from the farmside to the high streets when Princess Diana sported a rainproof Barbour in the 80’s. Since then, Barbour took the back burner until more recently when celebrities (and monumental fashion movers) such as Alexa Chung, Olivia Palermo and Kate Middleton were spotted wearing the rain proof fashion statements….
In a nutshell, here’s hoping Canada can catch on to a practical and fashionable brand, fit for fall, spring and Canadian style.