Country sports people are very polarised when it comes to clothing. One side of the divide requires high-tech, lightweight, synthetic materials like Gortex. The other more traditional side wants rugged, natural, low-tech waxed cotton, leather and tweed. Rods and Guns on the big country estates conform to a dress code. If a Gun arrived at a shoot dressed in jeans and a hoody, they would probably not be invited back. Similarly, I would feel out of place if I arrived at the river wearing flip-flops and shorts. I would look like a poacher.
I bought my first Barbour jacket over forty years ago. A Solway Zipper which I still wear. It’s an old friend with frayed cuffs, a few small holes and a belt that shrinks with each passing year. City gents used to arrive at work wearing a Barbour. A fashion statement about the commute from their country house in Clapham. Fashions changed and the economic downturn left people unwilling to pay for top quality, handmade English clothing with heavy brass zips and studs.
Musto jackets are popular. They are well designed and made from machine washable, breathable fabric. They have no soul. The melted chocolate in the pocket washes away. It’s no longer a reminder of a peaceful moment sat watching the river. My Musto Keeper jacket smells of fabric conditioner. The plastic zip broke last week.
I have four Barbour jackets to choose from, one for each season. They hang in the downstairs cupboard awaiting my departure. They smell of bees wax and muddy water. They are vintage, made in the UK from 6oz heavyweight cotton. A recent addition to my collection came from eBay. It only cost £22 , a tenth of the price of a new jacket. It has a patina and quality that can’t be matched. I might have a look for another, a Christmas present to myself.