Barbour company logo
About Us

The Barbour story began in 1894 in South Shields in the North East of England. Founder John Barbour began supplying oilskins and other garments to protect the growing community of sailors, fisherman and dockers. These first weatherproof items quickly established Barbour's reputation for innovation and quality.

Today, Barbour remains a fifth-generation family business. Under the leadership of Chairman Dame Margaret Barbour, Barbour has grown into a lifestyle brand offering a wardrobe of stylish functional clothing and footerwear for men, women and children inspired by the unique values of the British countyside. The iconic wax jackets continue to be made by hand in Barbour's factory in South Shields. Barbour International, the collection for men and women inspired by Barbours motorcycle heritage established in 1936, is now a separate stand-alone brand with its own identity.


1894 Black and white photo of John Barbour

The founder John Barbour opens J Barbour & Sons in 5 Market Place, South Shields

1908 Pictire of an old style advertisment

Malcolm Barbour produced the first mail order catalogue. By 1917 the catalogue accounted for almost 75% of Barbour's business including international orders from as far away as Chile, South Africa and Hong Kong.

1912 Black and white picture of John Barbour

J Barbour & Sons became J Barbour & Sons Ltd with John Barbour as Chairman and Jack and Malcolm as joint Managing directors

1927 Black and white photo of Jack barbour

Jack Barbour resigned and Malcolm Barbour was appointed Chairman.

1928 Black and white photo of Duncan Barbour

Duncan Barbour, Malcolm's only son joined the business.

1936 Line image drawing of a man on a motorbike

Duncan Barbour, himself a keen motorcyclist introduced a motorcycling range which quickly took off and Barbour suits were worn by virtually every British International team from 1936 to 1977 when Barbour pulled out of the motorcycle clothing market.

1939 Black and white photo of Nancy Barbour

Duncan Barbour was called away to war and Malcolm Barbour and Duncan's wife Nancy took over the running of the business. They developed the Ursula suit which became standard issue for members of the Submarine Service. The Ursula suit was named after the U-class submarine, Ursula whose commander Captain George Philips was instrumental in getting the suits produced.

1957 Black and white photo of a group of motorcyclists, dressed in oild cotton suits

97% of all competitors who took part in the Scottish 6 Day Event rode in Barbour International Oiled Cotton suits.

1964 Black and white photo of Nancy Barbour

Malcolm Barbour died age 83 and Nancy Barbour took over the role of Chairman with John as Managing Director.

1968 Black and white photo of Margaret Barbour

John Barbour died suddenly leaving behind his young widow Margaret and their 2 year old daughter Helen. Margaret was immediately made a member of the Board of Directors.

1974 Advertisemnt for Barbour clothing

1 April Barbour received the first Royal warrant from HRH the Duke of Edinburgh.

1980 Photo of man outdoors

The first lightweight thornproof short riding jacket - the Bedale - was designed.

1981 Photo of the inside of a factory showing rows of workers

Barbour moved into a new factory in Simonside where the company remains to the present day.

1982 Photo of a man outdoors

1 January - Barbour received the second Royal Warrant by Her Majesty the Queen.

1983 Photo of Barbour jackets

The Beaufort jacket designed by Margaret Barbour featured in the catalogue for the first time.

1987 Image of three Royal Warrants

1 January - Barbour received the third Royal Warrant by HRH the Prince of Wales.

1988 Image saying 'The Barbour Trust'

The Barbour Trust was set up to support local and national projects and community issues. Margaret Barbour donated 20% of her shares in the company to The Barbour Trust.

1991 Photo of two ladies receiving an award

In June 1991 Margaret Barbour was honoured with the award of Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to industry.

1994 Image celebrating 100 years of Barbour

J Barbour & Sons Ltd celebrated its centenary.

2001 Photo of Maragret Barbour receiving an award

Margaret Barbour was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year's Honour's List.

Mission and values

Since 1894 we have been a family business built proudly upon our roots in the British countryside. We believe in acting responsibly and minimising our impact on the environment, so that it can be enjoyed by generations to come.
Heritage & Growth
We are an authentic British brand. We protect and value our heritage because this will sustain our growth and evolution.
Customers & Quality
We take responsibility for attaining a high standard of quality. This is achieved through attention to detail in order to satisfy the diverse needs of the customers.
Working Hard Together
We believe in a pragmatic approach to achieving results through a combination of intelligent teamwork and individual excellence.
We are a strong family-owned international business. We believe in financial independence to protect our future. We are careful about how we use our money.
We believe in an open and strong leadership to give clear direction. We endeavour to spread empowered leadership throughout the company to support out continuing success.

Sourcing and ethical compliance

Better Cotton Initiative logo

100% of our waxed cotton is sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). We aim to source 70% of our entire cotton using more sustainability through BCI by the end of 2021 and 90% by the end of 2023.

ISO 14001 logo

Barbour achieved ISO 14001:2015 accreditation in October 2019. We are commited to continuously improve our environmental standards accross the business and progress our sustainability credentials.

Leather Working Group logo

Over 70% of our leather is currently sourced through the Leather Working Group and we aim to increase this to 80% by the end of 2022.

Reducing cardon footprint logo

Reducing our waste through the use of recycled materials and extending the life of our garments through our Wax for Life programme is part of a plan of ongoing initiatives to offset our carbon footprint and ensure that future generations can enjoy the British countryside.

Explore wax for life

Wax for life brings together three unique services:
Repair & Rewaxing
My Barbour

Find out more about it by clicking below

Diversity & Inclusion

"Barbour by nature and heritage is an inclusive brand and we're very proud to have a hugely varied range of consumers, customers and employees across the globe.

We strive to provide exceptional service to all of our customers of any background or ethnicity.

We are implementing plans across all of our channels, brands (Barbour and Barbour International) and campaigns to ensure that we always represent and celebrate the diversity within our customer base."

Steve Buck, Managering Director, Barbour

"I love working at Barbour because it's a real pleasure to work for a brand that people have an emotional connection to. There are always new and exciting projects to be a part of so no two days are ever exactly the same! As a member of the digital team, one day I could be out on a location shoot in the countryside, and the next, I'll be at my desk building landing pages for campaigns on our website."

Alice, Senior Digital Campaigns Coordinator

"My current role in IT is diverse, supporting and developing the core ERP business software allows me to be involved with all areas of our business. I find working at Barbour enjoyable because there's a real friendly atmosphere, not only within my own department but in the Company as a whole. Barbour is a brand I really believe in and I'm proud to be a part of, which also comes in handy as there are some excellent staff benefits."

Quenton, ESP Solutions Specialist

Image of two Royal Warrants