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The History of Tartan

A look back at the heritage behind the iconic lining

In recent years, Barbour jackets have seen a variety of new designs grace the linings, cuffs and collars – from Liberty florals to traditional fishing scenes – but there is none so recognisable as the Barbour tartan.

From the opening of the first Barbour shop in 1894, until the early 1990s, Barbour jackets carried various tartans as linings. One of the most distinctive being the Dress Gordon tartan, as once found in earlier versions of the Bedale, Beaufort and Border jackets.  But it was only in 1990, when Helen Barbour took a trip to Edinburgh to trace the tartan, that the Dress Gordon was revealed to be non-exclusive to Barbour.

Dame Margaret Barbour decided to contact renowned tartan company Kinloch Anderson – a British, family-owned company who shared the same three Royal Warrants as Barbour – to help research the family history and create a unique tartan especially for Barbour.

The earliest record of the Barbour family is from the 13th Century in Ayrshire, on the west coast of Scotland – and it’s this district’s tartan that the Barbour ‘sett’ is based on. With a brown and navy background and contrasting white, gold and red overcheck lines, the colourway echoes a classic Barbour palette. It’s a romantic, elegant, eye-catching tartan – most recognisable in its Classic and Dress versions. For Spring/Summer, Barbour wanted to champion the Dress Tartan, celebrating the brand’s long association with tartan. With its lighter stone-coloured background, the Dress Tartan is perfect for the collection’s summer-weight layers.

The new collection includes the reversible Cedar trench for women and the longer-length men’s casual coater – great outer layers on mild days. And for crisper evenings, the men’s Bretby crew neck jumper is ideal under a Fieldstack jacket. The women’s soft and cosy Cambrose crew jumper is also tipped to be popular, and pairs perfectly with the Tartan Summer Liddesdale quilt jacket.

The new Dress Tartan collection is available online and instore now. Look out for our Dress Tartan competition coming 25th March.

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