What Is The Difference Between Barbour & Barbour International

Barbour is a brand synonymous with style. Creating high-quality, long-lasting outerwear since 1894, the Barbour brand has expanded its offering over the years, creating luxury menswear, womenswear, footwear, homeware, gifts and accessories for pets under both the original Barbour and the Barbour International labels.

Barbour International is part of the Barbour family, but what are the differences between the two? And is one a better investment than the other?

At CHO, we’re outlining the differences between the two brands, analysing the history behind them and detailing their product offering, so you can be confident that you’re investing in the right Barbour brand for you!


The Barbour brand is most famous for its iconic cotton wax jackets but has a rich history. First established in 1894 in South Shields, a town with a bustling port, Barbour specialised in making waterproof wax cotton jackets for fishermen and shipyard workers. The brand still makes its iconic wax jackets in South Shields today.

White woman with blonde hair wears tartan Barbour wax jacket and is holding carrots in the woods

Barbour was originally founded by John Barbour, the first in a long line of Barbours to drive the company to success. John soon brought his son Malcolm into the business, who was responsible for compiling the brand’s first mail-order catalogue. By 1917, this catalogue was responsible for 75% of Barbour’s business at home and abroad.

The official company name, J Barbour and Sons Ltd, was established in 1912, with John as the chairman and his sons Jack and Malcolm as Managing Directors. When Jack resigned in 1927, Malcolm became chairman and brought his son Duncan into the company. 

Duncan, a keen motorcycle enthusiast, would go on to design the brand’s first motorcycle range, which would become the foundation of the Barbour International line. The Barbour suit, later known as the Barbour International, was a waterproof, one-piece wax cotton suit worn by every British International motorcycle team between 1936-1977. 

Securing their manufacturing plant at Simonside Trading Estate in South Shields in 1957 allowed the Barbour brand to grow significantly, and they still operate from the same factory today. 

The Barbour brand is still family-owned and is now in its 5th generation. Continuing to grow and flourish, it’s achieved 3 Royal Warrants from HRH, The Duke Of Edinburgh and Her Majesty the Queen.

In 1980, the Barbour brand created the Bedale, their iconic wax jacket for the modern era. Originally designed as a lightweight riding jacket lined with instantly recognisable Barbour tartan, the jacket propelled the brand to the masses and became a staple for the countryside and everyday attire. The style has since been reimagined into other jacket styles. In contrast, the tartan lining can be found adorning stationery and homeware, lining slippers and dog coats and taking centre stage on scarves, gloves and hats.

A brand for lovers of the outdoors, Barbour creates country-inspired clothing with a stylish twist. Worn for riding, for walks in the countryside and for strolling on the high street – it’s since been adopted by the style set and seen on the likes of Kate Middleton, Fearne Cotton, Daniel Craig and Alexa Chung, who has since collaborated with the brand. 

Barbour International 

A close up of the left arm of a Barbour wax jacket showing a Union Jack patch with a country scene blurred in the background

Part of the Barbour family, Barbour International is a significant piece of the Barbour story that led to it becoming a brand in its own right. 

When Duncan Barbour first created his all-in-one waterproof, wax cotton motorcycle suit in 1936, little did he know the success it would have. First developed for the International Six Day Trials motorcycle competition, the suit was an outstanding success and was worn by almost every rider on the circuit from the 1950s to the 1970s. Most famously, the Barbour International was worn by actor Steve McQueen when he rode the circuit with the US Motorcycle Team in 1964, helping to raise the profile of both the suit and the brand.

The Barbour International suit was inspired by an oil skin version made by the Barbour brand in the early 1900s. This suit was wind and waterproof and laid the foundations for the 1936 incarnation. The Barbour International A1 suit of 1936 was made from dark green wax cotton and was adapted in the 1940s into a two-piece suit for the British military (it became standard issue for Britain’s submariners). 

By 1947, these suits bled into everyday biking attire, with more civilians turning to Barbour International. In the 1980s, the brand’s black and yellow badge first appeared and the Barbour International brand was born. 

Many of the motorcycle suits’ original features helped shape the brand’s aesthetic, such as the slanted breast pocket that was originally designed so that riders could easily access their maps when out on the road, now a prominent feature of Barbour International jackets. 

By the early 2000s, Barbour International had become a standalone brand, selling clothing and accessories for men, women and children. 

Considered more high-fashion than Barbour, the brand has been featured at London Fashion Week since 2017 and is the clothing brand of choice for celebrities such as Sam Fender, David Beckham and Holly Willoughby. 

Barbour International epitomises stylish clothing inspired by motorcycle dressing. 

What’s the difference between Barbour and Barbour International?

Whilst both arms of the Barbour name are synonymous with high quality and style, there are some differences between the two. 

Barbour’s main characteristics

Barbour is a brand inspired by the countryside and the outdoors. The clothing in the Barbour range is created to enhance the warmth and comfort of its wearer; it’s stylish yet incredibly practical for chic meets functional dressing. However, its high-fashion collaborations with iconic fashion brands such as Chloé and GANNI are as much about the look and style as practicality and durability. 

Each jacket in the Barbour range has been designed to be weatherproof, whether that be the waterproofing qualities of the Bedale wax jacket or the general weatherproofing of a Barbour quilted jacket, so whenever you wear Barbour, you’re guaranteed to be protected from the elements.

Older white male with white beard and glasses wear Barbour wax jacket with hood up. There are people stood on the riverbank in the background

Barbour is a lifestyle brand synonymous with the countryside and outdoors, dressing for men, women, children and pets. Through their clothing and accessories, they have created lifestyle essentials for both the wardrobe and the home to enhance their customers’ everyday lives. 

Barbour International’s main characteristics 

Whilst Barbour paints a picture of quintessentially British, luxurious countryside living, Barbour International evokes feelings of the open road. Motorcycle-inspired dressing, the brand carries all of Barbour’s high-quality hallmarks but with a daring, edgier twist.

Each piece of clothing from the Barbour International line is inspired by its motorcycle heritage, with impressive and stylish results. So whether you’re looking for a cool jacket to level up your everyday look or you want to add some style staples to your wardrobe for drinks with friends, Barbour International offers options to suit in contemporary fabrics and styles. 

Choose Barbour International to express your style and individuality without relying on trends. Stylish pieces in a muted colour palette, finished with the signature yellow and black Barbour International logo, it’s Barbour for the city, the open-road adventurer and those who want to add some sharp styling to their everyday wardrobes.

Barbour vs Barbour International: The Highlights 

Whichever arm of the Barbour brand you shop from, you’re guaranteed high-quality garments built to last. 

For practical and stylish outdoor clothing and a brand that is an expert in the outerwear field, choose Barbour for men’s and women’s wax jackets, countryside-inspired looks and practical accessories for the whole family. Whether you’re looking for wellies for a festival or a new coat to get you through the winter, you’ll find perfect options to suit.

Suppose you’re revamping your wardrobe and want to add pieces that feel contemporary, fashionable and edgy but still offer longevity and durability, shop Barbour International. With each design offering a careful nod to the brand’s motorcycle heritage, whether choosing from the brand’s outerwear for men and women, hoodies, sweatshirts or footwear, you’ll be guaranteed timeless, contemporary high-fashion style pieces that transcend trends.

Shop Barbour and Barbour International at CHO today 

You’ll find stylish pieces to suit whatever your wardrobe is missing by shopping from Barbour and Barbour International today. From iconic wax jackets to clothing, footwear and accessories for men, women and pets, it’s never been easier to find the perfect garments to update your look, whatever your style preference!

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