It’s not just fine vintage watches and vintage Louis Vuitton bags that we source for the Bulang & Sons online boutique; we also have another passion…Barbour. There is one coat, however, that Bernhard and I bought totally independently of each other and turned up at the same London Passion event each wearing! The coat is a Barbour Heritage Beacon by To-Ki-To and was inspired by a very important coat in Barbour’s history. But more about that later…
A True Heritage Brand
Barbour was founded by John Barbour in South Shields, on the North East coast of England, in 1894. The harsh weather in that part of England meant that the early oil-skin clothes that John Barbour and his two sons sold to the local sailors and fishermen quickly became very popular. Within two decades they were selling their goods all over the world, as far afield as South Africa and Hong Kong.
Mr J Barbour – 1894
An extract from the first mail order catalogue from 1908
For many years Barbour lifestyle and brand feel was related to the life of the British Country Side. As a truly British Heritage brand steeped in family tradition, Barbour is as relevant today as it has been since its birth. As a boy, I remember my father wearing his navy Barbour waxed jacket for camping holidays and long dog walks in all weathers. The traditional shares and styles are still popular today alongside the new silhouettes that Barbour produces in its newer Dept B and collaboration styles.
The Birth of the Barbour International
One of the most enduring ranges is the International collection. In the 1930s John Barbour’s Grandson Duncan was a key part of the business and took the company in a new direction; manufacturing waxed cotton motorcycle clothing; the original International range.
Mr Duncan Barbour
1934 Biker Catalogue
The International jackets are still a hugely popular line in the Barbour catalogue and the International biker jacket is iconic, largely due to fact that it was worn by the late Steve McQueen. Barbour celebrated the 75th anniversary of the International jacket by unveiling the Steve McQueen Collection in 2011, which comprises jackets and a range of shirts, jumpers and jeans too.
Steve McQueen – Mr Cool
Barbour x To-Ki-To
As with all iconic brands, there is a very active Barbour collector community. Of special interest to collectors are the vintage pieces from the brands illustrious past and some of the short run collections created in collaboration with high-profile designers. One of the most successful of these was the Beacon Heritage range that was designed in collaboration with Japanese designer Tokito Yoshida. The collections designed by Yoshida (aka To-Ki-To) included knit wear and shirting but the main focus was the coats, which were made using Barbour’s classic fabrics with subtle design tweaks and updating by Yoshida.
The most famous of the To-Ki-To jackets is the Heritage Beacon Sports Jacket, as worn by Daniel Craig as James Bond in the movie Skyfall. This waxed jacket is cut to be slim-fit and is a cult classic for Barbour fans and sells for upwards of £800 now on the collectors market. Yoshida added his signature zipped poachers pockets on the rear of the coat and a removable button-up hood. Following the end of the To-ki-To collaboration, Barbour released the Department B range which featured a coat they called the Commander which is very similar to the original Sports Jacket (and the name a nod to the coats origins – Commander James Bond).
The Captain Cotton Custom Coat
And so to the story of the Team Bulang Barbour – another by Tokito Yoshida, that was inspired by a very important and interesting coat from the Barbour archive that was based on a vintage Durham jacket.
An original vintage Barbour Durham Jacket
The archive piece was worn by Captain Mick Cotton in the Falklands war and was customized by Barbour for Captain Cotton to use in the conflict. Capt Cotton served in the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 Para). Whilst not official army issue, troops were often seen in the field wearing Barbour coats. Barbour used a Durham jacket and added a number of pockets, D-rings and arm pouches to give the coat the additional storage options and make it more useful for combat situations. The coat also had additional press-stud fasteners and the lower arms of the coat were given additional reinforcement. A piece of original army issue kit still survives intact on the coat; half of a pair of foam ear plugs on blue cord, which one can presume were worn when in battle. The cord is tied to one of the many riveted eyelets that adorn the multiple pockets on the jacket.
The ‘Captain Cotton’ Barbour worn by Capt Mick Cotton during the Falklands conflict
And here is the To-Ki-To reinterpretation of the famous Capt Cotton jacket, that we call the ‘Team Bulang’ coat. Visually the Tokito piece is very similar to its inspiration. The integrated hood and multiple pockets make it a very useful coat for everyday wear and especially useful for carrying watches and accessories to meetings and events!
The Heritage Beacon
One of our favorite pieces from the Heritage Beacon collection is the waxed Camo Sapper. This jacket typifies Barbours cross-over appeal between the more traditional design of the waxed shooting coat and the urban popularity of the camouflage design. B&S founder, Bernhard Bulang, owns a Camo Sapper and it is one the favourite pieces in his Barbour collection.
Today’s Barbour People …
Check out this cool blog to see many images on how Barbour fits into our modern urban lifestyle… and Bulang & Sons truly loves the brand. The combination of the Barbour collections, worn with our leather straps and other accessories fits perfectly into the Bulang & Sons lifestyle aesthetic – which is why we all own so many of them!