If you have been around the menswear scene long enough, the brand Barbour should ring a familiar bell. Barbour, a family owned business, has been making country wear since 1894 in England. It wasn’t only till recently, through marketing campaigns and social media influences, that they became popular and obtained a form of global presence.
Still, finding someone with a Barbour in downtown Toronto is still a rare sight – which might be a good thing. However, unlike many other brands, Barbour is relatively accessible in Canada. Club Monaco and J Crew seasonally stocks a small collection, while Sporting Life carries most of Barbour’s popular models all year round.
With the influence of social media, particularly Shuhei Nishiguchi, I have been contemplating on acquiring a Barbour jacket for the past few months. The price of it is rather steep, typically around $400 to $500 CAD marginally variating between different stockers. However, during Club Monaco’s 30% off all items (including 3rd party brands – a rarity) Black Friday sale, I was fortunate enough to pick up an Ashby jacket, for $300 CAD, in its iconic olive colour.
A little bit about Ashby: an updated (read: slimmer) version of the Bedale, Barbour’s classic model, with slightly longer sleeves. It is also made with a medium weight (6oz) Sylkoli Cotton that is less sheeny than Barbour’s traditional waxed cotton. Despite having longer sleeves, I had to size up to a M just to have the sleeves match my wrist bone. Even though the Ashby is labelled as their slimmest model yet, the overall fit is still a little too generous for my liking. However, it certainly feels more modern than the other fits and you are typically expected to have multiple layers underneath.
The Ashby does retain features that pays homage to Barbour’s house model – the Bedale. It has a long corduroy collar that can be flipped up and snapped close to protect yourself from the elements. A corduroy lining is also present in the sleeve cuffs, enabling the user to wear the jacket with the sleeves rolled up slightly. Hand warmer pockets, two incredibly spacious front bellow pockets with stud closure, an inner pocket with velcro fastening for convenient accessibility and, my favourite, a double sliding front zipper.
Similar to other established menswear brands, Barbour jackets are the embodiment of a wardrobe investment. With proper care and maintenance, they can last you for decades to come. Barbour also offers a wonderful service, where you can ship your jacket over and have them rewax the jacket for you. Subjected to the frequency of wears, a jacket should ideally be rewax every year.
A Barbour jacket is perfect for protecting you from the elements (wind/rain). But, in a 6oz cotton, it fails to provide sufficient warmth when the temperatures reach below 0 degrees. Thankfully, to make the jackets more viable, Barbour constructs a inner zipper in the Ashby that allows you to (separately) purchase and attach a lining of your choice.
To extend the usage of the Ashby, I went ahead to purchase a Polar Quilt Vest. The Zip-in Vest uses the same tartan lining as the Ashby, a feature that I thought was absolutely aesthetically brilliant. Additionally, the vest’s sizing, by chest size 36, 38, 40 etc., is completely independent from your jacket. As mentioned above, I had to size up to an M for the jacket to accommodate for my sleeve length. However, even though M typically translates to a 38/40/42, I bought a 36 Vest as it is attachable regardless of your jacket’s size.
Due to the weather limitations, a Barbour jacket promotes layering. This is where you can get a little fun and creative. Check out Barbour People for inspiration on wearing your Barbour jacket casually. I like this gentleman in particular, as he effortlessly pairs it with a block coloured sweater, black jeans (my biases suggest that indigo would have complimented the jacket better) and a slick pair of beat up Chelsea boots.
I also like pairing the Ashby with chunkier knits and tailoring.
Although visual evidence reveals that it is compatible, I am a little hesitant to pair my Barbour jacket with a suit. The jacket itself has a casual workwear and country vibe that does not flatter my relatively aggressive suiting-wardrobe. Thus, I prefer to match the jacket with more casual/textured fabrics, such as a flannel or a thick tweed, and separates.
On Winter days, when I am unsure what to wear, my grey bespoke flannel trousers has become my go to. It pairs well with everything in my wardrobe and is an investment piece that pays dividends well. I don’t wear this olive houndstooth tweed jacket, a vintage piece, very often as it lacks the slimmer silhouette I usually endorse. However, considering the utilization of earth tones, olive from the Barbour jacket and grey trousers, the olive jacket seemed like an appropriate choice.
Also, Tomo and I are trying to extend our content range and excise our creative direction by implementing more close up shots as evidently portrayed in this post. I would love to hear your feedback/constructive criticism!
A Barbour jacket is one of the best wardrobe investments a man can make. I could advise you on what to look for and help you narrow down your selection but I think this Barbour Buying Guide by Derek, from Put This On, will tell you everything you need to know. Additionally, as to avoid making this post too lengthy, I deliberately left out some other details, such as colour fading. If you have a question that I did not answer, free feel to send me a message or comment below and I will reach you at my earliest convenience.