Few garments elicit the same sense of rugged sophistication as the Barbour jacket. Originally conceived as a utilitarian layer for outdoor pursuits, this quintessentially British piece has transcended its rather horsey origins, through interesting collaboration to remain a symbol of style.

The story of the Barbour jacket dates back to 1894 when Scotsman John Barbour founded the brand in Newcastle's South Shields, England’s most northerly major city known for its cold and wet weather. Drawing inspiration from his surroundings, Barbour set out to create durable outerwear tailored to withstand the harshest of weather conditions. The result was a waxed cotton jacket renowned for its water-resistant properties and toughness.

Over the succeeding decades, the Barbour jacket became synonymous with country folk, earning popularity among farmers, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Favoured by the British upper classes, best paired with Land Rovers and Hunter Wellies, the Barbour jacket’s rugged practicality quickly became associated with the Royals – most notably, Princess Anne and Lady Diana, who popularised the garment in the late 1970s and early 80s. Then a true bastion of Britishness, Glastonbury Festival soon adopted the Barbour jacket as its unofficial uniform for traipsing through the mud, worn with spattered wellies and thigh-crazing mini dresses by the likes of Kate Moss, Alexa Chung and Lily Allen

In recent years, Barbour has maintained its hold on the style set. Embarking on a hoard of collaboration with fashion brands to breathe new life into its old-school designs. In a savvy move to appeal to a broader audience, Barbour has joined forces with some of the most esteemed names in the fashion industry, resulting in a series of collaborations that marry heritage craftsmanship with contemporary chic.

For Spring/Summer 2024 Barbour teamed up with British fashion designer Erdem to work on a coveted collaboration, for the brand’s collection inspired by Deborah Mitford and her restoration of Chatsworth House. The single, limited edition piece takes the practicalities of the traditional waxed cotton Barbour jacket and plays with couture-like opera coat volume. On the runway it was worn with a detachable quilted and patchworked liner, incorporating real archival fabric remnants from Chatsworth, that once belonged to Debo.

Following the success of their first collaboration in 2022, Skandi-brand GANNI and Barbour teamed up again at the end of last year. Working on a nine-piece collection of waxed jackets, quilted jackets, scarves and bucket hats, emblazoned with recognisable GANNI logos, the collection walked the line between countryside style and city chic.

Back in October, Roksanda also announced another instalment of its collaboration with Barbour, featuring bold colours, sculptural shapes and modern distinctive cuts – all key Roksanda design codes – fused with Barbour's more traditional approach with a new adventurous spirit. Past collaborations also include sustainable British designer Christopher Raeburn, Japanese streetwear label A Bathing Ape (BAPE) and fabulously British Burberry.

This summer, Barbour has announced that it will be teaming up with Oxfam and Glastonbury Festival on an all-new Barbour Re-Loved jacket rental initiative. Pre-loved jackets that have been upcycled, will be available through the Oxfam stores on the Festival site. Attendees will be able to rent a wax jacket (for just £45) for the whole weekend. They then have the option to return their wax jackets at the end of the festival – or if they’ve fallen in love with their jacket, to purchase it. So, should the festival be hit with inclement weather partygoers can keep cosy and dry when dancing in the fields.

These collaborations have propelled the Barbour jacket from its rural roots into the forefront of fashion consciousness, offering both style and substance. The enduring appeal of the humble Barbour jacket proves that collaboration really is key!

Shop our pick of Barbour jackets below and bid farewell to April showers…

By Augustine Hammond