The cover is dated 1908 and reads in bold lettering ‘John Barbour & Sons Oilskin Clothing, Factors & Warehousemen – Market Place, South Fields.’ It was 70 years after the release of this iconic catalogue that Barbour, still a family company, sailed out of the seas of obscurity. Evolving from a brand once chiefly worn by seamen and dock workers, to an international power brand.
The niche of Barbour is its ability as a fashion brand to produce durable clothing, acting as a purveyor of function. For it’s Spring/Summer 2014 campaign, Barbour International continues to do this, showing that practical clothing can be stylish.
Evoking the Café Racer culture popular from the 1960s, the capsule collection aims to and achieves the awakening of the rock and roll aesthetic. The collection is set in a monochromatic, robust motorcycling lane in a forest; the models ride across the terrain clothed in waxed jackets. The subculture that Barbour were inspired by still reverberates across the motorcycle-skidded ground of North America. The style now incorporating the mud-speckled rockability of the British Rocker.
In the video for the collection, the male model and his female companion race from transport café to transport café that captures the rebellious, rugged spirit of the cafe racers. The Barbour jackets emblazoned with Union Jack patches come in a slick, black colour, being made of waxed cotton enables the jacket to resists the all-terrain that motorcyclists are exposed whilst still keeping you warm. This is the forefront of Barbour, fashionable clothing that retains practicality.
The utilitarian style of Barbour of a lightweight jacket is, 70 years later, still the vanguard of the motorcycling world. In the early 1910s, it epitomised the new breed of urbanite that could grasp upon the grimy, resilient ethos the brand built itself from. Its Spring/Summer 2014 collections showcases that Barbour International are still in touch with and can keep the spirit alive of their heritage.