Begin a post with a statement like ‘Things are not what they used to be…” and you risk losing all readers under the age of thirty and anyone hoping to read something other than a tedious rant about a golden age that probably never existed. So we won’t start like that, but we are curious, so we’ll start with a question: how long do you expect things to last?
If you’re Harry Styles and you’ve just hooked up with a new ‘mystery’ girlfriend then the answer is probably no longer than it takes for the hangover to wear off. Thankfully this is a matter of very little, if any, consequence. But say it was something you cared about – you’ve just invested in the latest blockbuster electro gizoid, setting you back something in the region of £500. How long is that shiny little bad boy going to last you? The answer is, not long. Maybe 18 months of app related gratification before you start complaining that the spark’s gone from your relationship and you need a new bit of kit on which to lavish your techie affections.
Moving on, what if it’s a really sizeable purchase like a car. How long’s that going to last? Well, probably not as long as you think. In their lifetime, people, on average, own a total of nine cars. So figuring, roughly on a life expectancy of 80 years – each of them post-17 spent driving, that’s a new set of wheels every seven years. We won’t speculate about how much cash you lay out on a new car, but however much it is you can rest assured the car’s value is depreciating at a terrifying rate.
So, not great news so far on the how long things last front. How about clothes? That kind of depends. Arch Hume Snr, Archie’s grandfather, was fond of saying he was “Too poor to buy cheap clothes“, and there is great wisdom nestled in this homily. It’s perhaps not the most exciting piece of advice but it’s a little nugget of truth worth tucking up your sleeve.
If, for instance, you bought a seemingly top end Barbour Trooper Jacket – the waxed, hipster one from the Lifestyle collection with the pouchy patch pockets that looks as good on the street as it does in the field- that we happen to mention only because we love it, the fact that we sell it is a mere aside – then how long can you expect this to last? The good news is, a really long time.
Unfortunately we don’t have a handy survey lurking around that gives us the exact data for the life expectancy of a Barbour jacket but we have enough anecdotal evidence to bore you into submission. If you’ve ever spent any time at all in the country, even if you’ve simply stepped out the Chelsea tractor long enough to muddy your toes then the chances are you will be equally well-acquainted with the fabled longevity of Barbour jackets.
Their long-in-the-tooth status is rivaled only by Land Rover, another heritage British company, so perhaps there is something behind that golden age malarkey after all. Companies who make things to last, with quality components and materials – not so many of those kicking about as we’d like.
Anyway, although Barbour is a company that has constantly re-invented itself, working with hip designers like Paul Smith and Japanese designer, Tokihito Yoshida – creator of the To Ki To jacket worn by Bond in Skyfall – Barbour still operates according to some very traditional values from its original base in South Shields. For example, the repairs and re-proofing workshop closes annually for holidays during August. Really – what other world leading, international brand closes for holidays? Name me one? You’ve got to be balsy in the 21st Century to just take the month off.
Which, speaking of repairs and re-proofing, brings us around to our next point. We know Barbour jackets last a long time but when they’ve done the wardrobe equivalent of twice round the clock even something this well made is going to look a bit shabby. However, this is far from the end of the road for you and your waxy friend. What you do is, parcel up your shabby old chum – who’s probably more than a little stinky – and send him off to South Shields, where he’ll receive The Treatment.
The Treatment covers everything from re-proofing, re-waxing to the un-initiated, repairing frayed collars and cuffs, and tears, even if it means inserting a whole new panel. It doesn’t matter whether your poachers pockets have torn due to constant abrasion from your rifle butt or some other nefarious activity – items found in pockets by the Barbour repairs crew include; sheep’s tails, fox teeth, the keys to St James’ Palace, steamy love letters and a crisp wad of cash – the nice Geordie ladies at Barbour will discreetly, expertly put your waxy old chum all back together again.
You can find out all about this All the King’s men and horses style repair service right here: Barbour Repairs and Reproofing.
Even if your jacket is in perfect nick, owners of splendid old Barbours do complain about the smell that arrives after you’ve been together for a while. This is due to the wax, which being a natural substance will alter over time. We’ve heard of people going to great lengths to alleviate the pong, including, washing with a dilute solution of vodka, sticking it in the freezer, or leaving it out to bake in the sun. As fun as this sort of thing may be, the real cure is re-waxing and this is really simple. If you’ve ever waxed a pair of skis, then it’s pretty much the same thing.
The ever so softly, softly, amber hued video above de-mystifies the process and shows you how to re-wax at home. Contrary to the impression given by the vid, which we suspect has been styled by the Canadian Tourist Board, you don’t have to go out to the back woods and surround yourself with vintage leather craft tools to re-wax your Barbour jacket. Some newspaper laid out in the wash kitchen, or utility room will do just fine.
Now is exactly the right time to send off your tattered Barbour, or give it the home spa treatment. Right in time for the arrival of autumn. If you do you’ll find that in contrast to our opening statement, ‘Things are not what they used to be…’, your wax Barbour jacket will be exactly as it used to be and whilst it may not have an infinite life expectancy, it does have a very long and happy one.
Please tell all your Barbour wearing friends, Like and Share to spread the word.