Menswear is born from function. Unlike womenswear, whose only real concern is aesthetics, our enduring pieces have always done a job. And thanks be, too. Where the fairer sex are often left crippled by heels or shivering in slips, the male wardrobe boasts flight jackets originally crafted for frosty cockpits; trench coats as protective now as they were in WWI; and leather jackets that offer the edgiest way to deflect the weather.
But while Barbour’s motorcycle arm, Barbour International, is rightly famed for its iconic biker jackets, today the brand offers something for top to toe. The entire collection is crafted with the kind of care – and with the kind of fabrics – you’ll appreciate when you’re nudging the speed limit with nothing between you and the elements. But because it’s Barbour, it also looks just as good if you travel by Oyster card, rather than on the back of Triumph. To celebrate the launch of the SS16 International collection, we’ve picked out the pieces worth investing in.
Original Wax Jacket
Barbour’s original biker jacket is as lustworthy now as it was on launch. If you’re actually astride your Triumph, then you’ll appreciate the belt and storm fastening, which ensure the wind stays where it’s meant to, even at high speed. If you deploy your Oyster card more than your clutch, then say hello to your new three-season layering piece – it’s lightweight and waterproof, so perfect for slinging on over a tee when spring’s weather is hard to predict, but roomy enough to slot a pair of knits under when the frosts come back. Available at Country Attire, priced £211.61.
This tee shines an appropriately revenant light on the year Barbour International sprung into being, with a subtle ’36’ emblazoned beneath the bike’s saddle. It’s also cut from super-soft cotton, which makes it the perfect piece to layer beneath an open biker jacket. Well, if you’re going to show your allegiance to a biker brand, you may as well go the whole hog. Available at Country Attire, priced £29.95.
Steve McQueen Chico Waxed Jacket
In 1964, full-time petrolhead (and occasional actor) Steve McQueen trundled up to Barbour HQ to pick up a box of jackets, so his team could wear them in the International Six Days Enduro off-road event in East Germany. To mark this relationship, Barbour named this Chico jacket in his honour, applying his bike’s bright orange paint job to the inside pockets and bindings. So even if you never boast the skills to leap a motorbike over a barbed wire fence, you can at least look the part. Available at Country Attire, priced £224.95.
Steve McQueen Holman Henley Sweater
Anyone who’s ever ridden in winter understands the importance of having heat-trapping cotton next to your skin. But this Henley – again, dedicated to McQueen – comes in neutral tones that work with everything in your wardrobe. So you can wear it under a blazer just as readily as with your leather. Available at Country Attire, priced £71.96.
This season, pockets are trending. Be they on cargo trousers or safari jackets, having space to stow your phone, sunglasses and keys is essential for the modern man. So thank Barbour for its International Smokey Jacket, which boasts a plethora of pockets originally designed for storing maps and bike supplies, but which we’d advise putting to use for everything that makes your trousers bulge in unsightly ways. Not like that. Available at Country Attire, priced £159.16.
Comet Regular Jeans – Rinse & Resin
Men can get a bit, well, weird about denim. But for all your shuttle-loomed selvedge, jeans that can’t handle a bit of rain aren’t much use – whether you’re on the back of a bike or dealing with the noriously unpredictable British weather. That’s why Barbour International’s denim is pre-rinsed and hardwearing, so it’s indistinguishable from the delicate stuff, but built rugged enough for whatever you throw at them. Available at Country Attire, priced £71.96.
Track Tailored Jacket
Those who prefer their outerwear a little more streamlined – be that for minimising wind resistance on your bike, or accentuating your work in the gym – should reach for the International Tailored Track Jacket. It comes complete with all the expected mod cons – an insulated body for keeping the weather out, zip pockets so your maps don’t fly out around corners, and a double-zip for extra layering points – but in a slimline package. Vroom vroom. Available at Country Attire, priced £95.16.
Steve McQueen Double Colour Jacket
Not content with giving Steve McQueen just one signature piece, this time the brand comes over all vintage, with a distressed design awash in 1960s biker necessities. There’s the buttoned storm flap, for all-weather riding; a stand-up collar with throat buckle, to stop rain running down your back; and an illustration of Steve and bike on the inside lining, just to remind you of the sartorial company you keep. Available at Country Attire, priced £228.95.