Sustainable for a century: South Tyneside firm Barbour marks 100 years of re-waxing jackets

Iconic South Tyneside brand Barbour is celebrating 100 years of sustainability.

Saturday, 14th August 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Monday, 16th August 2021, 1:35 pm
Barbour is celebrating 100 years of rewaxing

In 2021 the clothing firm, founded in South Shields and now based in Bede Industrial Estate, is marking 100 years of re-waxing its incredibly popular jackets.

Re-waxing or re-oiling as it was originally known, first appeared in the 1921 catalogue when Malcolm Barbour, the second generation of the Barbour family, began offering customers the chance to re-oil their oilskin jackets – and it’s a service that still continues today.

Customers could either send their jackets back to Barbour or they could re-oil them at home using a tin of Beacon Oilskin Dressing.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Rewaxing being carried out at its South Shields factory

It is testament to Malcolm’s legacy that he had the vision to understand the importance of re-oiling these jackets, by maintaining the oil on the jacket to keep it weather resistant, it extended the longevity of the jacket ensuring that it could continue to be worn for many years.

As well as helping the garment keep its colour, re-waxing helps the fabric look less worn and increases its longevity.

Paul Wilkinson, global marketing and commercial director for Barbour, said: “For a hundred years, Barbour has been committed to sustainability and we have always offered our customers a choice in the way they re-wax their jacket – they can either re-wax their own jacket at home or return their garment to one of our customer services departments across the globe.

"Over 100,000 tins of wax are sold each year and over 60,000 jackets are returned to Barbour to be re-waxed or repaired which demonstrates the commitment Barbour customers have to sustainability and extending the life of their products.”

Rewaxing was first offered as a service in its 1921-22 catalogue

In 2019, Barbour developed Wax for Life to bring together all of Barbour’s wax services under one umbrella name.

Together with the repair and re-wax service, this includes Barbour Re-Loved, an upcycle programme, first introduced in 2019 whereby customers return Barbour wax jackets that they no longer have a use for to be re-waxed, repaired and restored, giving them a new lease of life to be re-loved in a new home for years to come.

Wax for Life stations have also been opened in Selfridges in both London and Birmingham and will continue to be rolled out further throughout the rest of this year with Nordstrom and Orvis in the US and Hirmer in Germany.

Barbour was established by John Barbour in 1894 in South Shields to provide outerwear to fishermen, sailors and mariners to protect them from the worst of the British weather.

Barbour Rewaxing Service - Wax is applied with a sponge to the back of a Barbour jacket

Support your Gazette and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to all of our news and sport, see fewer ads, experience faster load times, test your brain with daily puzzles and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. The Shields Gazette has been on South Tyneside since 1849, and your support means we can continue telling your stories for generations to come. Click here to subscribe.

Wax jackets are a trademark of the Barbour brand