Vintage Barbour Jackets

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I love old English things, but sometimes they can be cantankerous. My ’68 Raleigh for its weird, proprietary headset standard. My grandma for starting that family feud a few years ago. Cadbury fingers for making me fat. Barbour coats because they smell waxy and are not machine washable.

Despite these notable flaws, all are unquestionably iconic and I just can’t help but love them. Even if you don’t talk to one of them in 4 years for being irrationally rude to your Mother. But hey, this is a style post and I’m here to talk about vintage Barbour coats!

A good raincoat is a necessity in climate like Portland’s, and who better would know how to deal with this than the British? In a current market of synthetic rain-proof materials and slick, goofy designs, Barbour stands out. John Barbour founded J. Barbour & Sons back in 1894 – as a company that made clothing to keep fishermen, sailors and dock workers dry. Formulas and techniques have changed slightly since then, but the original character and intent has not.

New Barbour coats are available in many places today, and they fetch a healthy price. It’s a perfect example of you get what you pay for – a coat that will last decades. However, with that said, I opted to find a vintage piece for much less than the cost of new. Other reasons to opt for vintage: they’re broken-in, look great, and still can have tons of life left in them. If your vintage piece has seen some wear, you can (and should when necessary, even on new coats) retreat the wax to ensure water is never a concern. Sometimes if you scout well, you can find one with a hood, which is usually a $100 option on new coats.

Barbour has many styles, but to me, there’s two main ways to go – the International for cruising on your vintage motorbike, or one of the hunting/utility looks. The most common of the utility coats I’ve found is the Bedale, Beaufort and the Border. The main differences in the three are lengths. I went with the longest of the three, the Border – for the most protection and since it’ll fully cover a suit jacket.

If you start searching, you’ll find all manner of intricacies with these jackets. It’s funny to read that some periods break tradition with different patterns of plaid on the inside and certain collectors totally rant! I think mine is actually a variant. Does this change the value? Not from what I can tell, but it’s interesting none-the-less. If you’re searching and can’t find exactly what you want… do like me and search internationally on ebay. I ended up buying from a vintage dealer in England, and although the shipping was higher, it was completely worth it. Good luck finding yours!

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26 Responses to “Vintage Barbour Jackets”

  1. chelsea says:

    being the anglophile i am , i love this post! lisa’s photos are gorgeous too. congrats on your new rain jacket!

  2. Keith says:

    That’s a fine looking slicker, Matthew. Makes me want to go find one for myself. That and an old Triumph motorcycle.

  3. Briar says:

    BARBOUR LOVE!

  4. Alan says:

    My jacket collection has doubled since moving to the Portland area. That coat is something that truly breaks in, versus wears out. The creases and crinkles give it a wonderful sense of character and history.

  5. Steve says:

    Great looking jacket, I was born spitting distance from the Barbour factory, and still live only a short drive from there.

    I often browse the aisles at the factory where they sell off test runs of jackets in new (and sometimes rejected) cuts and materials, or end of lines, all well priced.

    I own more than my fair share but my favourites are few that are pre-loved, ones that have a drop of character from a previous owner, a DIY patch, a repair to a pocket lining.

  6. vieve says:

    that is a rad jacket! love the patina in the close up shot.
    (btw, this post made me go do an ebay search. i found a few rad coats but haven’t bought anything (yet))!

  7. Nice jacket! I’m tired of synthetics, too. I made myself a wool jacket, and I have been wearing that and carrying an umbrella! I love the waxed look and would love to have a classic trench in that fabric. I’ll have to do some research and see if it’s something I could apply myself to untreated cotton.

  8. Logan says:

    Man, I really like the plaid liner (whether it lowers the value or not, it’s cool-looking) If it rained more than twice a year in Las Vegas, I’d try to buy one. Cool jacket

  9. Jake says:

    I just acquired my Barbour this week on eBay. I’ve wanted one for awhile and just decided to take the plunge. Great post! I found you can get the Barbour brand waterproofing wax from Blackbird up in Seattle, or just order it off of their site.

  10. Anna @ D16 says:

    Argh, yet another thing I want to buy for Evan!

  11. Ok. Let me first introduce myself. I am Mr. Goodwill Hunting. Let me also admit, that I LOVE this space in blogland. I saw a weekender on another blog and thought to myself, I’ve got to have that. So I came over. Then you made me fall in love with all of your images. That rarely happens. So, I just recently bought a weekender. BUT oh BUT dont you sell out of that bag, because that is my next purchase.

    Mr. Goodwill Hunting

  12. this is such a nice jacket! as soon as i saw it i knew it would be perfect for my boyfriend, nick. he just won one on ebay, with a hood! i’m so excited for him to wear it. it’s perfect for the nova scotia rain.

  13. p.s your anti-spam thing is awesome

  14. Dan says:

    i just bought the same one and my girlfriend hated it!

    I’ll sure miss her :)

    -D

  15. Joe says:

    I just dug out my Barbour jacket from, indeed, my ’69 Triumph Bonneville days. It served well for several years as a photojournalist in SE. Asia, including one dark night ambush when half the people I was with, were hit. Black is a nice color, times like that. There are a few holes in it, and the flannel lining is about gone—wonder if it can be repaired?

    It should serve well in Portland too, though it will need rewaxing before it will withstand the rains we’ve been having. Feels good right now.