Our assistant store manager Andy recently had the pleasure of heading over to Barbour’s factory, often seen donning some quality Barbour pieces on the shop floor, Andy relished at the chance to go and check out where some of the brands best outerwear pieces are hand produced. Check out what he had to say about the experience below:
I have always been a fan of Barbour clothing, getting my first waxed jacket when I was about 7-8 years old to match with my Dad’s old Northumbria.
Being a brand with such a strongly rooted local heritage and 2 Royal Warrants for prestige and quality they are not ashamed of getting down with the odd cheeky collab, I was never going to miss out when the invite dropped for a spot of training and the chance to attend the famed factory tour!
So, my day started at Barbour House in South Shields, I was greeted by Kate one of the Visual merchandising team, to kick off the days packed schedule, where in the foyer the sofa is trimmed with Barbour’s classic tartan.
After passing through a maze of rooms all filled with enthusiastic staff working hard and carefully placed archival outerwear in cabinets littered with remnants of adventures gone by, we arrived at our destination for the day. This meeting room was cool and typically Barbour, it was brimming with more product and memorabilia…this is exciting! Looking around the room there was also the rewaxing table where we would be treated to a session from Legend of the wax, Neil.
As I mentioned there was a lot of products, some new seasonal samples which looked incredible, vibrant and innovative but then on the other side there some old and I mean really old. One of which was Steve McQueen’s ACTUAL jacket, from the International 6-day motorcycle trials competition, what a monumental piece of history!
After an insight into the forthcoming seasonal highlights and a quick lunch break we continued the day learning about the mens and ladies apparel, from the fit and features of the past and present outerwear to the influence of Duncan Barbour on the inception of the International range in 1936.
One of the standout points was the sustainability programme, which not only represents the product but the packaging, so more recycled packaging is used where possible and the rewax and re-love schemes are now in full flow.
The re-waxing scheme is incredible to see in action, Neil was an absolute master craftsman! Watching him bring an old and much-loved jacket back from despair to being water resilient once more. Now I know where I went horribly wrong when I tried to wax my own Bedale during lockdown.
The factory tour I feel was where I had my eyes opened to the sheer scale of the workforce behind the brand. Gregg Wallace and his tour on TV didn’t do them justice by half.
From the plethora of wax jackets available there are still 2 iconic styles handmade in the factory in South Shields, the Bedale and the Beaufort. This, is the impressive part…it takes 36 people from start to finish to produce a single waxed jacket and on average 3000 can be made weekly – 6 cutting fabrics, 4 preparing, 2 on mainline, 4 finishing, 1 extremely active team leader and 1, yes only 1 on QC. Barbour are much more eager to add extra staffing into the main line and production side as they have to maintain such high standards, so this in turn minimises the need for more quality control analysts.
To summarise, my day at Barbour House I gained not only a heightened enthusiasm for the brand but a more in depth perspective of where the brand is heading in future with their firm core values. For me looking to the future in particular, especially as a father I am passionate about the environment and the impact we are having upon it. Sustainability, heritage, independence and quality are all values that Barbour pride themselves upon and since visiting the factory this has become very apparent to me.
So thanks for the great day playing out at Barbour House Kate, Colin and all involved.
Sounds like a great day, lets be honest we’re all a little jealous aren’t we. If you want to get your hands on some of Barbours Wax Jackets, or any of their quality garments for that matter, take a peek at Aphrodite’s curation of Barbour products below.