This is the third and last post about my trip with Barbour! (Catch up on day one and day two!) This one is super, super, super photo heavy. I honestly couldn’t narrow it down anymore. It was all just so incredible.
The whole day was going to be spent at Barbour’s headquarters and the factory. I really had no idea what to expect, but it was a serious highlight of the trip. I went in loving Barbour and ended the day with a serious appreciation for the brand and the employees and the designs and the heritage. It’s going to be so hard to try to describe how cool the experience was.
We gathered in the archive room for coffee before heading over the factory. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a factory before, so everything that I was picturing in my head was from movies.
We started off in the customer service area where people can send in coats for alterations and repairs and rewaxing. This was by far, the most entertaining part. Jean, the head of customer service, started off as a part time employee I think twenty-something years ago and is now in charge! She gave the most amazing tour complete with unforgettable stories and tidbits.
Because people are so attached to their Barbours, they often send them in for repairs (even when it might be more cost-effective to buy a new one) with stories and photos. The coat above was “Dudley’d.” As in, that little dachshund ate the coat! See the top of the sleeve? Torn completely apart.
There was another story about a man who used to sneak his infant daughter into pubs by placing her in the inside pocket of his beloved coat. When he sent in the coat recently for repairs, he included a picture with his granddaughter in the same pocket!
Oh and people leave things in their pockets…. Like wedding rings, money, keys to palaces (but actually!). The customer service team takes such great care of the coats. They process and determine what they can and can’t do, what the price will be, and then go off to work once the customer agrees.
Because of all the different kinds of coats over the years, they have to know how to repair them all and they keep some of the limited edition fabric on hand, but might have to salvage fabric from other coats to make it work.
We then went into the actual factory. Wow. So many people, so many moving parts. But it was really inspiring to see how the coats are made by hand. We all had Barbours on, and I couldn’t help but think that it had gone through the same process!
The factory went on and on with women working at their stations. They’re great! Every time a new style comes out, they have to learn how to make it. So when the designers come up with something new, they have to know how to sew and produce it. It’s not easy. Just watching them for the short time we were there…. they were so fast and so skilled. I was impressed!
And then we got to check out the coats from the archive. You could see how the coats have and have not changed over all the years. It was all about function, not fashion. Leg straps to keep the coat from flying up while riding horses. Extra flaps to stay dry on motorcycles. Angled pockets to hold roadmaps. Extra pockets for ammunition. The list was endless. As needs changed, the coats changed. (Oh! And the wax? It’s used to keep the fabric from rotting after it gets wet!)
All of the coats in the collection were actually worn and used. The Barbour team hunts for coats, people find forgotten coats and send them in, and sometimes the customer service team receives a cool one and they work it out with the customer to trade. The coat above was used in the war… and the pocket has the owner’s blood type written on the inside– “O” Positive!
Then we got to preview the upcoming collections. Tartan and polka dots!
We wrapped up and did a bit of shopping in the store before heading back to the hotel. By this point, only the Americans were left, as we were flying out in the morning. We had a bit of time in the afternoon to walk around Newcastle. It is such a beautiful little city. With no itinerary, we really just wandered around taking in all the sights.
That night we met for dinner with some of the Barbour team and sat there going through our favorite parts of the trip… and joking around about different words we use for things.
Sadly, the next morning was a flight to London and then a flight back to NYC. A long day of traveling, but definitely the perfect time to reflect on the trip before entering the real world again.
I had such an amazing time and I will forever be grateful to the Barbour team. For three short days, we got to experience SO much. This was absolutely an experience I’ll remember for my whole life.