Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Barbour Outerwear

hen it comes to outerwear, few companies match the quality of J. Barbour & Sons.  It makes perfect sense, really - the Brits have to deal with crappy weather day in and day out.  They chase foxes through the briar.  They fish for cod in rough seas.  They will not tolerate a flimsy coat.

My Barbour Paisley Sapper Jacket
If you go to their site, you'll see some elegant looking crests on the top left of the page.  These are royal warrants, the British version of endorsements from the royal families.  The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Prince of Wales have all decided that Barbour is their manufacturer choice for "waterproof and protective clothing".

Barbour, founded in 1894, is perhaps best known for their waxed cotton jackets - hard as they may try to extend their product line.  A waxed cotton jacket is just that; a multi-layered cotton jacket that is coated with an oily, waxy substance that repels water, wind, and keeps the cotton from getting shredded by thorns.  There are a wide variety of styles to choose from.  I ended up with the limited edition paisley "Sapper" jacket (left) which I found last-minute from The Welsh Farmhouse Company in the UK.  They won't do international orders online; you have to call.  They were wonderful to work with.

The zippers on all their jackets are left-handed, so that takes some getting used to.  Perhaps it has something to do with which side of the road they drive on....who knows.  Everything is double-stitched, they employ brass grommets and zippers, and there's a zip-in hood if the situation dictates.  The collar is made from a warm courduroy, and the lining.....ah the lining.  A beautiful paisely lining that is a departure from their standard (but nice) tartan plaid.

Wax Thornproof Dressing
If you are fortunate to purchase one of their fine waxed cotton jackets (sorry, the model I got is sold out), be sure to pick up a tin of the Wax Thornproof Dressing (at right).  This will allow you, with some patience, to re-waterproof your jacket when necessary.  Another tip:  It will be necessary to do this when you least want to send your coat back to Barbour for a few weeks.  To apply, warm up the jacket either in the sun or using a blowdryer.  Warm up the tin of wax in some warm to hot water.  Dip a damp rag into the warm wax (not too much!) and apply to the coat in a small circular fashion.  Take your time and be thorough - your dryness depends on it!

The Brits prefer to wear their jackets into the ground.  If the jacket gets holes, they send it in to be patched, and these patches are part of the Barbour wearing culture.....like jeans with holes in them.  I plan to take care of mine as best I can, and I'll consider patches on an as-needed basis.

--A

The spectacular Barbour Paisley Sapper jacket lining!

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