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    What do you get when Land Rover and Barbour unite? A clothing collection that combines iconic British design with proven functionality. We meet the Barbour design team.

  2. WORDS
    25 JUNE 2015
    • Posted: 25/06/15

      What do you get when Land Rover and Barbour unite? A clothing collection that combines iconic British design with proven functionality. We meet the Barbour design team.

      “Barbour and Land Rover are two companies that, if you take all the logos off, you still know exactly what they are,” says Ian Bergin, Barbour’s head of menswear.

      There are many parallels – both are iconic British companies with a proud heritage that have built global success through products people trust – so it’s not surprising that Barbour and Land Rover decided to work together to create an exclusive range of premium clothing. August 2014 saw the launch of Barbour for Land Rover – a collection that blends their hardwearing functionality and effortless style.

      People have a genuine affection for Barbour and Land Rover – an emotional attachment

      Ian Bergin Head of Barbour menswear

      Durability was John Barbour’s vision when he founded the company 120 years ago in South Shields near Newcastle to clothe the sailors, fishermen and dockers of the area. Barbour’s headquarters in north-east England are full of heritage. Take the table Ian and I are sitting at in the Pattern Room. It first saw service in Holloway – London’s notorious women’s prison. Then, in the 70s, it was bought by John Cleese and Connie Booth who wrote Fawlty Towers on it. Today it’s being used by Barbour’s affable design manager Gary Janes – or it would be if he wasn’t looking out of the window to show me his vintage Land Rover Defender Pick Up parked outside.

    • “People have a genuine affection for Barbour and Land Rover – an emotional attachment,” says Ian. “Barbour is a part of our national heritage. We have the opportunity to build on that.”

      Ian was brought in four years ago to help achieve this goal. And, when you find out more about him, you feel they got the right man for the job. He grew up in Manchester in the 80s, obsessed by fashion. He studied history and politics in London, and then joined Arthur Andersen accountants as a graduate trainee.

      “I knew it wasn’t for me after the first day. I was given a plastic briefcase, which really summed the whole thing up,” he says, still wincing at the thought. He made his apologies and wandered off through Covent Garden where he saw a sign in Paul Smith’s Floral Street store advertising for help. He ended up staying for 13 years, graduating from assistant to footwear to director of jeans and casualwear. Then he set up his own label, One True Saxon, and began working at Barbour four years ago.

      The jackets have been designed for drivers with a shoulder line for comfort

      Sarah Lawrenson Head of Barbour womenswear

      “Funnily enough, Barbour’s done fantastically well over the last four years,” he says, before cracking into a cheeky Manchester grin. But he’s right – in 2000 Barbour had a £36.7 million turnover. Last financial year it turned over £152 million. Like Land Rover, Barbour’s international appeal is huge, and Ian’s experience at Paul Smith – a man not averse to a little international expansion himself – has been valuable here.

      “We have a huge global opportunity – business in the States has begun to accelerate because younger customers want that British preppy look. We are sold in over 40 countries and we are in the process of opening stores in China through our Chinese distributor.”

      Top Left
      The collection blends both brand's hardwearing functionality and effortless style.
      Top Right
      The Land Rover customer was the focus for the collection.
      Bottom Left
      Jackets designed for drivers.
      Bottom Right
      Durability was John Barbour's vision when he founded the company 120 years ago.

      So Barbour and Land Rover form an obvious partnership. John Edwards of Land Rover Special Operations realised the possibilities when he saw the Barbour jacket that Daniel Craig wore in Skyfall. This is a true special agent’s garment – it’s tough looking and zips down to become a lapelled jacket that retains its Barbour aesthetic.

      Sarah Lawrenson, Barbour’s head of womenswear, says that detail is absolutely key to this partnership. “The Land Rover customer was the focus for the collection,” says Sarah. “Jackets have been ergonomically designed for drivers, with a shoulder line cut for comfort and double zips for functionality.”

      There are no big logos, just a Barbour for Land Rover tag on the jackets’ upper left arms. There are clear nods to Land Rover throughout the range, from the use of Barbour for Land Rover tartan, to the Alcantara (a composite material used in cars) instead of corduroy inside the collar and a quilted embroidery pattern that cleverly echoes a Range Rover’s grille.

      This collection encompasses the traditional country styles that are Barbour’s bedrock and designs with a modern, tailored silhouette.

      Ian shows me a sonic welded jacket. Sonic welded? “Yes, the seams are welded together using high-frequency ultrasonic vibrations. It’s still the Barbour shape; it’s a nod to the past, but moving forward, too,” he says.

      I ask Ian what makes a Barbour jacket ‘Barbour’? “It’s a confidence, an understated style,” he says. “We’re not fussy, we’re inclusive. In the late 80s we were pigeonholed as something just worn by the well-heeled, with an association with country sports. Now we’re considered to be quite classless – anyone can wear a Barbour jacket. It’s seen as British style rather than one that’s for a particular type of person. But it’s still aspirational.”

      And – just like a Land Rover – once you own one, you tend to treasure it. “I love Barbour because it’s like an old pair of jeans,” says Ian. “You’ve got your whole life in it – the people you’ve seen, the things you’ve done. It becomes really yours – people become really attached to their garments. You can get them repaired and rewaxed here, so they are a true lifetime product. And I think that’s really important in this day and age when things are so transitory.”

      Partnerships like the Land Rover project keep Barbour fresh. The ethos may not change, but the style does. “If you just interpret your archive all the time you end up in a cul-de-sac. We could just carry on making six types of jackets in South Shields, but we update them in a modern way. A customer will look stylish but at the same time it’s the same rugged product and it’ll always do the job.” A bit like Land Rover.

      Follow our Twitter and Facebook pages and keep visiting landrover.co.uk for more news on our design partnerships.

  3. WORDS
    25 JUNE 2015


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