Facts About The Barbour Family Tartan

As we celebrate our Autumn/Winter ’17 Barbour Tartan collection, we're bringing you some facts about the famous family tartan to give an insight into its origins.

August 28th 2017
Tartan became popular when the British monarch, Queen Victoria, expressed her fondness for all things tartan during her reign from 1819 to 1901. However, the first written reference to ‘Highland Tartan’ was as early as 1538, in an account of clothes for King James V. So what is special about the Barbour family of Tartans?
1 - Our Founder, John Barbour, was a Scotsman, and even though he moved over the border to South Shields in the North East of England, where Barbour began, he never forgot his Scottish roots.  From the early days of the company, he used tartan as a lining in his oilskin jackets.
The Haydon Jacket from the Barbour Archive (1911)


2 - Dame Margaret Barbour and her daughter Helen Barbour, developed the Barbour exclusive tartans in 1998, in association with tartan specialists Kinloch Anderson.
3 - Barbour’s tartan was based on the Ayrshire District Tartan, where the Barbour family name originated in the 13th century.
4 - The first two Barbour Tartans to be developed were the Classic Tartan in 1998 and the Dress Tartan in 2002.
5 - Today, Barbour has 7 exclusive tartans – Dress, Classic, Modern, Ancient, Muted, Cardinal and Sporting Tartan. 
Pictured is the Classic Tartan (L) and the Dress Tartan (R).


6 - The green, blue and brown colours in Barbour tartans were chosen to reflect the colours of the famous Barbour Wax Jackets; Beadale, Border and Beaufort.
7 - We still use our tartans as linings in jackets, but they also feature on quilts, polo shirts, footwear, and accessories, making Barbour products immediately recognisable.
From left to right: Bedale, Border and Beaufort.


Discover more of our Autumn / Winter Tartan campaign here and explore our Men’s and Women’s collections.