Barbour holds a special place in my heart, but from their expansive collection, the only pieces I wear are the Bedale and Beaufort. The first is a waxed cotton jacket with ribbed storm cuffs, which is great for layering over sweaters; the second is similar, but a little longer so you can comfortably wear it over sport coats. This fall, however, they’re introducing a special collaboration with Daiki Suzuki of Engineered Garments and I couldn’t be more excited. The collection was recently unveiled this past Saturday at London Men’s Fashion Week, although the jackets won’t be available for sale until fall. If you couldn’t wait for last year to be over, this collection is a good reason to pine for the end of this one.
Each jacket is made from Barbour’s signature waxed cottons, in neutral colors such as olive, black, and navy. Waxed cotton, as many know, is one of the more traditional forms of water-resistant fabrics, but unlike others, it develops a unique patina over time. Before British sportsmen wore the material to cover themselves from the rain, British sailors covered their capes in grease in order to protect themselves from the sea’s sprays.
Daiki Suzuki says Barbour reached out to him for the collaboration, and given how much he already draws from hunting clothes, the partnership was natural. “I personally love Barbour and hold in my collection a Bedale, Beaufort, International, Cowen Commando and vintage reissued cape given to me by WP Lavori,” he said. “One of the main elements of Engineered Garments is its classic military styling. It was a challenge to think about how to go about working with such an iconic brand and one that I hold dearly."
Suzuki ended up with playful takes on Barbour’s more iconic models, re-working some of the company’s game pockets and looser silhouettes. The Cowen, for example, is based off Barbour’s Cowen Commander, a jacket that takes after something British soldiers wore in the Falklands War. Years ago, Barbour adapted the design to suit one of their British Army customers, but Suzuki has since given it a more stylish twist. There’s also the four-pocket parka, which features an adjustable, oversized hood and a drawcord waist. Like many of Suzuki’s designs, you can find oddly placed pockets all over the place, such as the two here on the arms.
Others include the Dumbo, which is a fusion between an MA-1 bomber and a classic variety jacket. The one-piece raglan sleeves make the jacket easier to fit, while the military-style pockets give it some charm. In the back, you can find a poacher’s pocket, which Barbour has used on their hunting coats. For those more daring, the Cape is Suzuki’s take on Barbour’s policemen capes, which features a "turn right” asymmetric cut and an adjustable security harness. Finally, there’s the Graham, which is basically Suzuki’s spin on the Beaufort – a little more interesting, but still just as classic.
As for why anyone would need so many pockets? Clearly to carry all of their theater snacks, loose change, and smug sense of superiority. Hang one of these jackets up and it can double as an over-the-door shoe organizer. No word yet regarding prices, but if you factor in cost-per-pocket-wear, these will be near pennies. I’m already hoping to get my hands on either the parka or Dumbo.
Pictured below: some photos from the event, as well as an old Barbour catalog that I love. At the very end of this post is the country segment to the BBC’s special on British style, which is a must-see if you haven’t already.