Barbour, where made?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by tjchung, Nov 12, 2009.

  1. Expat Simon

    Expat Simon Active Member

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    In the interests of fairness, an update.

    Barbour Cust. Serv. finally replied asking how to resolve this. I simply asked for an English made Barbour as a replacement for my imported coat, they supplied me with a list to choose from, followed by a replacement jacket -finally an English Barbour jacket.

    So there you have it.
     
  2. Celadon

    Celadon Senior member

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    I was looking at some of the Barbour knitwear at the barbourbymail.co.uk website and noticed a conspicuous absence of information about where it is made. Had it been made in England or Scotland, they would obviously have been more than happy to point that out, so I can only assume that it isn't.
     
  3. ballmouse

    ballmouse Senior member

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    I'm pretty sure that is not an official Barbour site.
     
  4. Celadon

    Celadon Senior member

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    It is clearly official enough. It is reasonable to assume that their info on the clothes represents whatever they get fed from Barbour.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2013
  5. Expat Simon

    Expat Simon Active Member

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    I suspect that because they've recently become more desirable, that the demand for their coats has increased dramatically, and they're rapidly adjusting their manufacturing habits to satisfy it. So maybe they're in the middle of a learning curve -where after years of making all of their waxed jackets in the UK, they're now forced in to using other locations to keep up with current and projected sales.

    Maybe they're trying to juggle their English heritage (and therefore the appeal for many of us) with the newness of having an ever growing percentage of stock made overseas. Maybe they've not yet settled on how to present this new 'Made Overseas' information to their customers.

    Or maybe they're just getting them made overseas, because there is more profit using that method.

    I don't know. But the bottom line, is that they should label their goods with country of origin, so that we can make an informed decision. That's not an unreasonable expectation.

    The longer they refrain from doing this, the more risk there is for them. Because in the digital age, customers with doubts and problems can be found all too easily.

    Personally, if I were upper management at Barbour, I would have looked into enlarging my UK production capabilities (to keep the 'English-made' appeal intact) and if overseas production was unavoidable, I would have been honest about this fact.

    And before I am criticised for being 'naive', I will explain that I do work in a similar area (whilst preserving some of my anonymity). I have been in a couple of real-life situations where the owner of a manufacturing company has been debating whether to go down the 'cheaper labour' route and I have always pushed for the relevant company to keep their integrity, regarding their production location. Unfortunately, the prospect of higher profits has swayed the ultimate decision maker, in my personal experience.
    For clarity -my personal working experience has not been related to Barbour in any way whatsoever.

    I am genuinely proud of my 'real' English Barbour jacket because,
    1. Labour. I feel better in the knowledge that it was skilfully made by people with years of experience in making similar waxed jackets.
    2. Materials. Often when manufacturers use overseas labour, they find that it is also more cost effective to source their materials closer to where the construction is carried out. So having a 'real English' Barbour means that the waxed cotton, the lining cotton and the hardware is more likely to be up to Barbours traditional specifications.

    Finally, I sincerely hope that Barbour sticks with (or even expands) their factory in the North of England, and that they get over this bump in the road by starting to label their goods more clearly because with every year, there are fewer comparable (historic, traditional, skilled, focused) companies. Barbour is an English icon and it would be depressing to lose such authenticity.
     
  6. charlyboi

    charlyboi New Member

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    Just putting it out there, but simply because an item was made overseas, does not mean it's of a lower quality.
    Many companies subscribe to charities like the Fair Wear Foundation, which assures that not only are the garments of a good quality, but so are the working conditions of the factory employees.
    I understand your frustration at being deceived - if you wanted an honest answer, it's sometimes best to ask somebody who doesn't work for the company. You'll only really get an honest answer if the staff feel the can validate their response: "yes, it's made in Bangladesh, BUT..."!
    Because work has been outsourced to other countries (Romania, Vietnam, China, India, etc...) for so many years and by so many big brands, in many cases, the quality of the goods is just as high - if not higher - than those items produced in the UK. If a factory is used by a big name like Barbour, it can build it's reputation on making high quality goods, and only improve from there. Another thing to remember is that often companies who value their reputation for high-quality items - like Barbour - will make the fabrics in their home country and then outsource the assembly to another country, rather than the entire production line. If the thought of having a completely foreign-made jacket puts you off, then it might be worth considering that the components were at least made where you wanted them to be.
    Lots of people seem to be happy with the performance of their products until they find out where they came from. I found out recently from a Barbour rep that only the wax jackets are made in England - the rest are outsourced.
    It's pretty shoddy of Barbour to hide that though - at least be honest enough to put it on the label!
     
  7. Expat Simon

    Expat Simon Active Member

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    Hi Charlyboi. I understand your points, and I'm not writing to blindly disagree.

    I just wanted to reiterate that I specifically wanted to buy an English made Barbour, and I therefore stated that point as clearly as can be done, to the staff at their factory store, up there near to Newcastle. I'm not really sure who else I could have asked? I took a look here (and elsewhere on the web) in advance, and the opinions were quite varied, about what was made where.

    So I travelled to that region to see the sights, to drink the famous Ale, eat the food, explore the city, and buy an English made Barbour from their HQ, believing that location would offer the widest selection, therefore enabling me to find exactly what I had in mind. Whether my decision is logical or not is (of course) solely opinion!

    You are absolutely correct that an item being made overseas, rather than in the traditional 'home' factory, does not automatically equate to worse quality. In all honesty, I remember that when the classic canvas Converse All Stars started to be made in the Far East, their uniformity from pair to pair seemed to actually improve. But it is also true that a move overseas does not automatically equate to higher quality either.

    What is not up for debate, is that Barbour will make more profit selling an International jacket which was made in Romania, than an International jacket that was made in South Shields, UK.

    I am not a big contributor to style forum, through choice, but I really enjoy reading it. I also like being anonymous, but would like to share a business experience that is relevant.

    So, I worked at a company which took pride in their historic place of manufacture. We had an excellent product and a correspondingly excellent reputation. Hard times gradually rolled in (general economy downturn, plus other factors) and sales took a downturn, meaning that revenue was hurt. The owner of this company adopted a new, some would say more open, attitude, and started to talk to overseas suppliers. We were visited by several overseas suppliers, who studied our products, and then gave us their sales pitch. The services offered, differed in only the details.

    Each time we were offered similar choices, that our products could be copied in every way, and that we could choose levels of quality: 1. The best being our own raw materials and just their labour, 2. The next level being their raw materials (of similarly excellent quality to our existing ones) and their labour once again. 3. The final options were their raw materials again, but of obviously cheaper quality than we were currently using. This was several years ago, but that was the basic dynamic as I remember it.

    The owner of our company chose to go with the most reputable suppler and their middle option, i.e. using their overseas labour and best quality raw materials (not our own). We were quickly supplied with some impressive samples. He therefore took the next step, and placed a test order, of not too high a quantity. They arrived on time, but were riddled with quality control problems, which meant that about 80% of the supplied products could not be sold, without corrective work.

    Needless to say, this supplier was struck off. After trying several others, always with problems, the company president decided to set up his own off-shore production facility, and this took some considerable time to set up, due to land, buildings, paperwork, the sending our manufacturing managers and supervisors to train the locals etc.

    Unfortunately even this did not automatically step us into making overseas products of the same quality. So, when I decided to buy a Barbour, I wanted one that I could keep, possibly forever, and from my own personal experience, the best way to get that, was to buy one that had been built by their most experienced workers, using the same raw materials that they've always used. As a matter of fact, I now own two English-made Barbours.

    Maybe the ones made overseas are just as good, maybe they are not. But the reputation which Barbour have, is built on their English made jackets. That was my guarantee of quality.

    And finally, I still think that their efforts to hide the place of true manufacture is quite ill conceived. I hope I haven't come across as aggressive, as it is not my intention. I just wanted to share my experiences, and therefore clarify my personal buying choice.
     
  8. Farmer Jones

    Farmer Jones New Member

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    THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL WEBSITE! BE WARNED!.

    BARBOURBYMALL BARBOURCOATSUK.

    I have recently placed an order for a quilted barbour jacket via the above website.

    All looked legit as it had all the barbour branding & logos on the website. Having check the official sites these look very similar.

    i was using my phone when placing the order in the early hours of the morning. Jacket was reduced & i thought why not.

    Orders come through today.. firstly, its the wrong jacket!, secondly its come from Malaysia via the postal service. Last but not least i can tell a fake from a mile off. Something about the jacket did not seem to look & feel right. After some digging around.. my suspicions were confirmed. It was a fake.

    Absolutely gutted as i paid good money for it. Honestly could kick the F*** out someone, but what can you do? Sending this back i might not recieve anything back? Refund? I doubt it.

    Definately make sure you check any sites you purchase from, as this site did not look, cheaply made. I looked like a proper barbour site, logo everything. BEWARE!
     
  9. tumbler

    tumbler Member

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    I really appreciate your posts and do not think they came off as aggressive. I was close to purchasing a Barbour coat and also had issues determining the country of origin. This thread was enough to point toward another company. I fully understand the price, scale, and even quality factors that lead manufacturers to move production elsewhere. I accept this and have no issues purchasing goods from other countries, assuming they are made in a fair and humane way. I have no respect, however, for a company that moves production and then disguises the shift by dropping or hiding the label of origin (which was certainly not done by mistake), while still prominently displaying the British Royal Warrant seals and continuing to charge "Made in England" prices. I hope they recognize the damage this has done to their reputation and move to be more transparent in the future. For me, the perception of this brand has declined significantly.
     
  10. tumbler

    tumbler Member

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    Thought I would let you guys know that I wandered into the Soho store today to check out the country of origin issue myself. I was surprised to find clearly labeled tags showing the country of origin (Made in Tunisia, Made in Vietnam, Made in Romania, etc.) on almost everything I picked up. None of the items were made in England, but the tags were still right on the inside and the country of origin was facing outwards, not on the backside of the label or hidden under another label. I was beginning to feel better about the brand until I picked up a Bedale jacket. No country of origin. Not up top, not on the sides, not in the pocket, not even hidden under another label where others have claimed to find it. So final verdict... still a bit sketchy.
     
  11. Expat Simon

    Expat Simon Active Member

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    Tumbler, I just re-read your posts, and wanted to chip again very quickly. Where you wrote,

    "...hiding the label of origin (which was certainly not done by mistake),..." etc.

    I think you succinctly summed it up -better I had managed with all of my pages of words!

    If… if you can pick up an English-made Bedale, I would wholeheartedly recommend it. Mine looks good over office wear, and looks great with jeans at the weekend. I've stood in the rain watching the kids play sport, for two or three hours at a time, with no umbrella (just a waxed cotton hat) and not a drop has got in. I've not even felt clammy inside it. The slash pockets are even designed so the water can't even run down your sleeves and into your pockets, because they seem to put your arms at the perfect angle to stop water from running downward. Also, if you forget a scarf, the big collar even has a throat tab, that does a pretty decent job of keeping the cold out. And when the jacket loses it's water resistance, you can get it re-waxed. For all the talk about modern synthetic waterproofs, I've never personally been able to revive an old one.

    If I had just been told the truth in the first place (!) I'd have only had good things to say about Barbour, because my English-made jackets are excellent.
     
  12. Ellieusa

    Ellieusa New Member

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    I stumbled on this forum after I purchased my Barbour Beadnell. To echo with what Expat Simon, I can testify that "NOT" all Barbour waxed cotton (including Beadnell) are made in the UK. And I have to say that Barbour is trying their very best to hide/ deny this. And that their customer service from their UK head office is horrible and unprofessional.

    Here is my story: I live in the USA and I purchased a Beadnell from Nordstrom (very big retailer in the USA), the Beadnell was made in England but I decided to return it because it was a touch large. Since there are no retailer in the US sell UK 6, I decided to purchase a UK 6 Beadnell from a UK retailer which offer free shipping plus a free gift.

    I got the jacket but soon noticed that no country of origin was listed on my jacket. Even though the Beadnell came with a very nice Barbour hanger and the workmanship was great, I didn't feel good about this and that's when I started my internet research.

    I took a photo of my Beadnell and emailed Barbour asking to see if my Beadnell was counterfeited and I also explained to Barbour that the stock photos on Barbour website and the returned Beadnell I bought contained "made in England" label, so I thought this particular Beadnell (without country of origin) was strange. Sara at Barbour customer service asked which online store I bought my Beadnell from. Upon my reply (it is an authorized retailer), Sara cut & pasted a standardized message stating Barbour's pride on making their waxed cotton in the UK, but fell short on replying me if my Beadnell was counterfeited or not. So I went ahead and asked her if she meant my Beadnell was not counterfeited but was made in overseas. Sara then told me "your Beadnell may have been made in Europe".

    Because I have already read Expat Simon's post at that point, I went on asking Sara for a "made in UK" exchange. Sara told me that I could call (I only communicated with Sara through emails since I live overseas) their head office customer service and that someone would locate a "UK made" one for me.

    A few days later, I made a long distance call to UK Barbour head office. The lady who answered my call was nice at first, however, once I told her about my exchange with Sara and she told me to call for a replacement, this lady became rude and spilled the bean saying "not all waxed cotton are made in the UK" (sorry lady, 1) Barbour had been refusing to admit that their waxed cotton are not all made in UK. 2) On your website, where you speak of Barbour Originals, http://www.barbour.com/highlights//barbour-originals/c/barbour-originals?breadcrumbs=mens, you say "...Barbour’s most famous waxed jackets – the Bedale, Beaufort and Beadnell. Made in England, and designed by Dame Margaret Barbour for ..." and I was calling you about a Beadnell, not other contemporary waxed cotton jacket. So I repeated to her about what Sara promised me, which was an exchange for a made in UK Beadnell. Then this lady got ruder and told me to contact the retailer where I bought my Beadnell from. My phone conversation with Barbour last less that 45 seconds and this lady at the Barbour Customer Service Head Office was rude and inpatient. I could hardly believe how rude she could be.

    I didn't want to sign up for a forum and write but this Barbour experience really ticks me off. First, Barbour was not straightforward about the origin of their traditional jackets (which Barbour wants people to think they are all made in the UK). Second, when customers asked Barbour to clarify, Barbour kept on lying and ducking. Third, the Barbour rep over the phone was short-tempered, I thought I was talking to someone at a fish & chips shop near the ghetto.

    I write this hoping someone would be informed about Barbour's business practice and be aware that their Beadnell are not all UK made. So if you want to buy a UK made Originals jacket, it is best to confirm in person or to make sure the your retailer ship you a made in UK one.[​IMG]
     
  13. tumbler

    tumbler Member

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    Or better yet, do what I did after having a similar encounter, and abandon Barbour for a less dodgy brand.
     
  14. Ellieusa

    Ellieusa New Member

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    update:I emailed Sara in the UK head office to let her know how displeased I was with the CS lady. I also asked[​IMG] for an exchange with Barbour USA. Sara forwarded my request to the USA office and I was connected with Debbie. She located a UK made one right away and I received my exchange. Debbie in the USA office was far more professional and didnt dance around my question / request.I have to conclude that Barbour really smudge their name big time. My experience with the UK head office totally destroyed the quintessential image I have projected of Barbour.
     
  15. Beetleything

    Beetleything Senior member

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    Just to update this -

    Been looking around at a lot of Barbour's of late and quite a few have MADE IN - TUNISA -BULGARIA etc stitched on a label right below the main label.

    So it seems that they outsource quite a bit lately !
    Even worse - saw some Barbour wool scarfs - tartan....Made in China :cloud:

    I think you can assume if it does not say Made In England on the main label - IT IS NOT!

    What a load of BS for a great GB Co.
     

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