Friday, September 21, 2012

Is There A Barbour In The House?

Old Beaufort

Time for a wax job!

No, not that kind; I mean it may be time to get your Barbour coat re-waxed, or as they refer to the process in South Shields, UK, re-proofing.

For those brave souls who want to try re-proofing on their own, we have one word: Hah!

We tried that once: stood the Thornproof Dressing in hot water, cleaned off our Beaufort with a damp cloth (never with soap!), tried to apply the wax-dressing somewhat evenly with a brush, and then tried to blow dry the applied "wax" evenly (some say to use a warm iron). The result was just about what you'd imagine it to be, amateurish, as in total mess. Pheasants and ducks would have fallen out of the sly laughing at that splotchy coat.

If you bring your Barbour into a nearby purveyor of thornproof coats (Orvis in Darien CT or on Fifth Avenue in NYC, or Parker's in Rye NY), they will forward it to Barbour's Re-proofing & Repair facility in New Hampshire. Or, you can send it directly by using the form provided on Barbour's website (link below).

Barbour and Orvis currently estimate that this process will take 4-6 weeks . In other words, since you didn't do it last spring, you better get going in order to get it back to meet the first real fall chill. Actually, most people do forget to re-proof in spring or summer, and there is always a bit of a rush as fall begins (FYI, tomorrow morning) A simple reproofing, without repair charges, will  cost $36 including return shipping, a pretty good value in this world, Barbourites.

Barbours have become commonplace on campuses, in upper middle class communities, and on city streets. Many men and women wear them to the office. Some people even make fun of those who wear Barbours, as they would others who habitually wear Gucci loafers, Vinyard Vines ties, or Patagonia clothing. To them we say, get waxed and don't take your selves so seriously.

I purchased my own Barbour (above)  for a trip around China in November 1998 at the old Orvis shop on East 45th Street. I needed a versatile coat for a cruise down the Yangtse from Chongqing through the pre-flooded Three Gorges to the site of the mammoth damn being built at that time.

I learned two important things about Barbour coats on that trip: 1) they are versatile and really do keep you warm and dry as long as its not actually freezing; 2) The weight of their cotton, dressing, and metal zippers/snaps, so vital to fighting off sharp thorns, drizzle and chill, make them impractical  to carry around, when not actually wearing them.

As soon as we moved off river to Yichang and especially Shanghai, where it was much warmer, I no longer needed my Barbour, but had to transport it.

Meet The Bedales
This does not mean that you should always leave your Barbour home when traveling. You just need to think about the circumstances. If it won't be too warm wearing it in airports, or if you can carry it with you easily, or you know that you'll be needing it where you'll arrive, then by all means go for it. The good news is that in the right destinations: much of Europe in late fall, winter, early spring, for example, you will have a trustworthy coat, which you can wear during  the day or night just about anywhere except more formal restaurants or business engagements.

Some travelers prefer to wear Barbour's lighter, quilted coats when traveling. These coats still keep you warm, but lack real rain protection. I must admit to believing that many men look silly wearing quilted coats; just saying, and you know who you are, or should.

But, your Barbour experience in cool and or wet weather will always depend on having the coat properly weather-proofed. So, best not to go more than two seasons between proofings. If you can't tell whether your Barbour needs reproofing, just take it in to one of the shops listed above; someone on the staffs there should be able to advise you about that. If they can't, they shouldn't be selling Barbours.

For re-proofing:

For a very nice Barbour video sent by a rareburgher:

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