The Barbour Outlet in Milford

This isn't your run-of-the-mill outlet store
Barbour offers a wide variety of outerwear.
Photo by Melissa Boulanger

Barbour, the classic British clothing firm with retail stores around the world, has an outlet store in New Hampshire and it is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill outlet store. For a little over seven years Barbour has offered reduced-price merchandise (at least 50 percent off) at its Milford operation, which is primarily used for re-waxing, refurbishing and custom tailoring for Barbour’s huge international clientele. (Those that wear Barbour intend to so do for a lifetime and then pass the garment on to the next generation.)

While natty and knowledgeable European fashion connoisseurs in the area have been on to this little-known secret, there is simply no more reason to whisper. The outlet store has expanded: It’s time to raise the bar on your drab wardrobe and toast to this British line of upscale country outerwear for men, women and children. As they say in “Downton Abbey,” “You’ll be flabbergasted.”

Barbour, beloved by farmers and fashionistas alike, is known throughout the world for its generous line of stylish waxed jackets, quilt vests, Tattersall check button-down shirts, wellies, accessories, outerwear coats and more. The outlet store doesn’t disappoint. While the store itself is not all that glamorous, it is designed uniquely to lead you to treasure. What you’ll find are items from the Barbour clothing collection that may have been in last year’s collection, discontinued, overstocked or from sample lines. You will find only authentic Barbour. The company simply does not engage in manufacturing subpar outlet-only items.

Barbour stands out from other outerwear manufacturers for many reasons. First, it is their legendary durability. The anatomy of a Barbour jacket includes the corduroy collar, classic ring pull and big-toothed zipper, practical pockets (four separate pieces of fabric), solid-brass buttons (self-locking), thermal linings, double-stitched seams and storm flap. Barbour Tartans are exclusive, trademarked and legendary.

Rain boots come in an assortment of fashionable colors.
Photo by Melissa Boulanger

The Barbour Company was founded in 1849. In the early 1900s they began a mail-order business that accounted for most of their sales during the 1920s. Jackets were designed for the high seas, hunting and equestrian activities. Soon there became a niche market for motorcycle suits, which were worn by international motorcycling teams. In 1964 Steve McQueen competed in the ISDT (International Six Days Trial), the “Olympics” of motorcycling, where he wore the Barbour motorcycle jacket. Today, the brand offers the Steve McQueen collection, which includes several styles of heavyweight wax jackets that feature the international label, two bellows pockets, one angled chest map pocket, a Velcro pocket, an internal pocket and belt. The lining features a photo of Steve McQueen. And yes, they are available at the outlet store for half-off original prices.

Enter the royal family. Barbour is one of a handful of companies to hold three Royal Warrants. Royal Warrants are a mark of recognition to individuals or companies who have supplied goods or services for at least five years to the royal family. Barbour’s first Royal Warrant was issued in 1974 by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, in 1982 Her Majesty the Queen awarded Barbour a Royal Warrant followed by the third Royal Warrant issued in 1987 by HRH The Prince of Wales. The Queen wears Barbour, Princess Diana wore Barbour, the men in the family wear Barbour and, of course, Kate Middleton does.

Kate Middleton has been photographed numerous times in her olive Barbour Beadnell jacket, which on the other side of the pond sells for $429. The outlet, which actually does carry them at half price, had one available for a ridiculously low price of $90 because there seemed to be a blush of paint on the sleeve (which actually gives it the desired worn look) and the inner liner zipper was a bit “fussy.” That jacket is sadly (ahemm) not available. (Pinch me!)

The Barbour brand may not be a household name, but the clothing is surely recognizable. If you are a Downton Abby fan or a movie-goer, Barbour is a regular cast member, showing up on the backside of the popular television series characters as well as on the shoulders of James Bond (the Commander Jacket) in “Skyfall,” Helen Mirren  in “The Queen” and, of course, members of the Royal Family.

The Barbour Outlet in Milford is a jewel to be had. The staff is knowledgeable, friendly and all-knowing of the current inventory. Allow plenty of time to look at the fine details of the clothing line and be willing to spend a little more than other brands. After all, Barbour outerwear is meant to last for generations.   

Categories: Features