Alexa Chung in her Barbour bucket hat contrasting to her silver sequin Sportmax dress.

The Story of the Waxed Cotton Jacket

Published 10/01/2023
By: xxx Published: d/m/Y

Wax on, wax off. Don’t forget to breathe. Very important.

How easy and meditative doesn’t it sound, this mantra that Mr Miyagi repeats to Daniel San in Karate Kid I? But literally waxing a jacket is quite complicated – if you want to avoid chunks of wax left on the fabric’s surface that is – so much so that Swedish outdoor brand Fjällräven has dedicated a full page on their home site with moving content and step-by-step instructions on how to smoothly work with the Greenland Wax on your garment and your Kånken backpack.

Despite the fact that keeping up with your waxed jacket can be a challenge, many are the fashion forward collaborations ( Supreme, Noah, Margiela, Moncler, Chloé ……) we’ve seen over the years evolving around this iconic, waxed cotton fabric, – or to be more on point: the Barbour cotton waxed fabric.

Because the story of the original waxed jacket is really the story of Barbour. What started off in 1894 as a supplier of oilskins and other outdoor garments to protect the surrounding community of seamen, sailors and dockers from the unreliable North Sea weather, is now a more than 120-year-old family affair and internationally known brand. The journey has taken Barbour from producing jackets mainly associated with hunting, fishing and life in very demanding conditions, to launching full outfits more suitable for music festivals and fashion week front-rows.

The real breakthrough came when Barbour began producing weatherproof outdoor clothing for the military. The so-called Ursula suit quickly became the top option for the Submarine service in WWII. This iconic outfit was then followed up in 1936 with the launch of the iconic wax cotton International motorcycle jacket, with Steve McQueen being just one of many riders and famous personas to have sported the garment. 

Daniel Craig in the James Bond film Skyfall, wearing a limited edition model, Barbour Dept. B Commander, a collaboration between Barbour and Japanese designer To-Ki-To. Image courtesy Pinterest.

Still today, everything evolves around Barbour’s traditional jackets, all of which are manufactured by altogether 36 people from start to finish, each professional constituting a vital part of the production process. The ever-growing number of collaborations is no exception. The jacket, may it be oversized and long as a coat or with added frills looking more like a top than an outdoor jacket, is the centre of attention in all of the special Barbour capsules carried out throughout the years.

With Alexa Chung passing over the baton this year to GANNI and Chloé after more than 6 years in pole position as guest designer for the house, the level of creativity and out of the box-thinking have risen above all expectations. Free-spirited femininity and sophisticated comfort are celebrated alongside Barbour’s tradition and heritage, to such a degree that the waxed cotton fanbase has been given the brilliant nickname Barbour-aholics. What the transformation of the legendary war- and workwear fabric will look like next season, only the future will tell.

Alexa ♥️ Barbour

Alexa Chung’s cool country classics paving the way for the ”from field to festival-Barbour”.

Chloé Frilled Jacket

Barbour’s first-ever high end collaboration with luxury French fashion house Chloé.
The frilled waxed jacket becoming a future classic.

GANNI x Barbour Patchwork

Scandi style meets the British Barbour archive in this responsible collection made from at least 50% recycled fabrics.

Toteme A-line Coat

Made from wind and water-resistant, waxed cotton sourced from British heritage weavers and dyed in a dark shade of forest green.

Barbour x NOAH

The cult New York label, where signature Barbour pieces were reimagined with a youthful sophistication. The legendary Bedale Jacket came in bright colours and tartan detailing.

2 MONCLER 1952

Wight down jacket created from waxed cotton. The included puffer jacket enhanced with a detachable nylon laqué hood.

Maison Margiela Sports Jacket

Jacket crafted from waxed cotton, with a utilitarian design and signature four white stitches at back.

Supreme for Barbour

Supreme being Supreme, made the jacket in leopard and blaze-orange colorways.

Holzweiler Waxed Outerwear

Diana Coat is a Norwegian oilskin long jacket designed with a removable collar in corduroy.

Ally Capellino x Barbour

British bag and accessory brand’s ‘made to last’ approach to design mixed with Barbours iconic jacket models and materials chosen for their lasting beauty and function.

Image courtesy Ba

Published 10/01/2023

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