When Supreme announced its Barbour collaboration earlier this year, reactions were split, to say the least.

Veteran menswear aficionados were ecstatic, thrilled that (after an arguably lackluster season) streetwear’s leading man finally released something they could get behind. As for the mainstream hype customer, they were... unsure. [Yes, the leopard print instantly stood out](grailed.com/drycleanonly/supreme-barbour-ss20-collab-info)—when does it not?—but why Supreme would work with a relatively traditional British outdoor company was no doubt confusing for younger customers, particularly for those lacking exposure to the beloved waxed jackets.

In reality, the collaboration–like all of Supreme’s best partnerships—made perfect sense. An established name looking to attract younger, more fashion conscious clientele partners with the New York brand, while Supreme introduces its audience to a historic heritage label with serious insider cache. Of course the capsule, which consisted of a waxed jacket, bucket hat and fanny pack, sold out.

More importantly, the overwhelming excitement around the collection by a demographic that in large part Supreme has recently struggled with proved two things. First, though this was already well established, the Ivy and Prep trend is making a comeback. Secondly, the “grown up streetwear” set is still hungry for classic silhouettes reworked with a contemporary twist, the type of design that defined Supreme through the early 2010s. Above all, the fanfare surrounding a nearly 50 year-old design—albeit a revised version—showed how in the midst of pandemic and economic turmoil, men are starting to once again embrace iconic menswear staples. In an environment defined by uncertainty, timeless classics offer stability. Given its illustrious history and century-plus of expertise, Barbour is exactly that.

A brand with working class roots embraced across British social strata, from royals to football hooligans and country folk alike Barbour is widely recognized as enigmatic of British manufacturing and ingenuity. Today, its original waxed jackets are greater than the company which produces them, but a symbol of how the country estate and made-to-measure tailoring intertwined to form the core of modern men’s sportswear.

In order to fully understand how a small importer from South Shields, England became an international business that is as emblematic Burberry—despite being one-tenth the size—you must realize how a family turned a novel invention into an institution, one still thriving five generations later.

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