October screen print motorcycle inspired T shirts, for Barbour International at London Fashion Week
We occasionally argue at October, about whether we’re Inspired by screen print and T shirts after 28 years, but we all agree that we’re inspired by the motorcycle, by Barbour International, and of course London Fashion Week.
So what’s the Barbour International story – when did all that two wheeled, happily plastered in mud with a face full of flies thing roar into life? Wake up, you might get this in a pub quiz and win a bag of nuts – it is of course 1936. Anyone get that? (Anyone caught using Google will be disqualified)
Yes, 1936, and the Barbour International jacket has protected the backs of every British motorcycle team from then until 1977. Almost everyone wore it in the 1965 TT race on the Isle of Mad, and it was Steve McQueen’s favourite the year before at the ISDT race.
You probably all knew that, but for a free drink, where was it particularly favoured during the Second World War? No? Well we’ll tell you – when not being worn on European battlefields, the Barbour International jacket was the official Submarine Commanders coat!
The motorcycle heritage remains unmistakable though, as seen its presentation at London Fashion week. The belt is such a key feature in the Barbour International jacket obviously, keeping everything gathered in at high speed, and making sure you don’t get an owl blowing up your shirt on those high speed night rides. The zip pull ring is nice and big, so you can still operate it in a Welder’s mitt. And we all love that angled left chest pocket, meaning in the good old days you could get your smokes out while still operating the clutch. (Don’t try that kids, unless you want a final fag before you go over a hedge).
At London Fashion week, guests were taken on an 80 year motorcycle inspired journey at the Vinyl Factory, from the beginnings of Barbour International. And as always, a few faces turned up, like Johannes Heubel, spotted having a chin wag with Paul Sculfor, Craig McGinlay and Oliver Cheshire.
Unsurprisingly we screen printed a big 36 on the front of some of the T shirts (using a nice soft discharge ink), as a nod to John Barbour’s grandson Duncan Barbour. He was the serious motorcyclist who slid a one-piece suit into the range, called the Barbour International. It was developed for the 1936 International Six Day Trials (you were wondering what the hell ISDT meant). And that’s where the ‘International’ bit came from – we get there in the end you see.
Attendees were then catapulted through time to 1964, when all the American team wore the jacket at the Trials in Germany, including Steve McQueen. Not surprising then that Barbour International was inspired to create the Barbour International x Steve McQueen collection back in 2011.