It doesn’t get more classic or retro than this, folks. You’re looking at the Barbour International, which has been in production just as you see it here since — get this — 1936! And since what’s old is new again in our Retro is Golden age, the International is now red hot. The Barbour International jacket is now being distributed by British Motorcycle Gear in the U.S.A.
These are the same folks who bring us the Belstaff goodies, so get ’em while you can, because you never know what tomorrow will bring… Look through a book with photographs of the motorcyclists of yore and it’s obvious that the International jacket was de rigueur riding apparel for the serious motorcycle rider.
Barbour’s own website has some of the statistics: 97% of the competitors in the 1957 Scottish Trials wore Barbour and they were the official motorcycle police jacket in 14 different countries. And other than WWII, when there were no international motorcycle events, Barbour was worn “by virtually every British international motorcycle team from 1936 until 1977”. How’s that for a pedigree?
Speaking of The Look, the Barbour is also instantly recognizable by its classic signature tartan interior cotton lining, which is also very comfortable. And best of all is the “Made in England” label, along with its gaggle of Royal seals, attesting to Barbour’s official appointments to various Kings and Queens.
The International certainly doesn’t replace any of the modern motorcycle jackets with their high-tech fabrics, CE-approved armor, Gore-Tex liners and Nylon zippers.
The decision to buy a Barbour International comes from the same set of illogical emotions that “force” one to come to the decision that only a Moto Guzzi Le Mans, Ducati Paul Smart 1000 or Triumph Thruxton will do as the next bike.
Owners of those classics or any other vintage British or European make will surely want to complete The Look by going all the way with an International. And while you’re at it, how about a pudding bowl helmet and some stringback gloves?
But it’s more than nostalgia — the great thing about the International is that it looks (and works) just as great off the bike as on, so you’ll be the envy of the pub when you’re wearing it.
As an old-time Barbour Bedale owner, I can tell you that the waxed cotton (the only way they could keep anything waterproof back in the days before Gore-Tex) is sticky at first and attracts lots of lint, cat hair and other assorted fur-balls and cat hair tumbleweeds, especially in the International’s near-black color.
But after a few outings, the wax stiffens up and the jacket will get that wonderful broken-in patina that Barbour owners know and love. The jacket can be re-waxed if necessary, either by the owner or by sending it back to Barbour for a refurbishing.
Which is another nice feature about buying a classic that’s been in production for 70-odd years.
Barbour is always there to fix it should something go wrong. Try doing that with your globally-sourced mesh jacket and see how far you get!