Textual Conversations with Ian Bergin of Barbour

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Before becoming Head of Menswear for one of the the most respected and iconic of British brands, Ian Bergin, was Managing Director of men’s fashion brand One True Saxon, a brand he founded 11 years ago. Prior to that Ian spent over 10 years with Paul Smith in various roles including Brand Director R. Newbold (Paul Smith Japan), Brand Director Paul Smith Jeans and culminating with Divisional Director Paul Smith Casualwear.  But it’s with Barbour Bergin has made the most impact. He is responsible for the overall design direction and strategy for all of the menswear collections for Barbour and Barbour International, developing ranges with his team for each brand for Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter from outerwear through to shirts, knits, trousers, footwear and accessories.

However, the Barbour story dates back well before Ian joined the company in 2010. It began in 1894 in South Shields in the North East of England. Founder John Barbour began supplying oilskins and other garments to protect the growing community of sailors, fishermen and dockers. These first weatherproof items quickly established Barbour’s reputation for innovation and quality.

Today, Barbour remains a fifth generation family business and has grown into a lifestyle brand offering a wardrobe of stylish functional clothing for men, women and children inspired by the unique values of the British countryside. This includes shirts, trousers, knitwear, accessories and footwear alongside Barbour’s legendary outerwear. The iconic wax jackets continue to be made by hand in Barbour’s factory in South Shields.

For Autumn 2015 Barbour are to reveal one of their best and most exciting collaborations to date, the first collaborative Autumn/Winter collection for global markets, with Japanese brand, White Mountaineering. The collection focuses on combinations of fabrics – waxes, corduroys, leathers and tweeds to create intricate clothing based on Barbour’s heritage and Britishness with White Mountaineering’s high attention to detail.

Founded in 2006 in Japan, the White Mountaineering name was inspired by the dominance of concrete buildings in Tokyo which appear to glow white. The company is renowned for its imagination in combining design, utility and technology into its garments and since 2006 has been producing rugged, heritage inspired collections with a strong emphasis on fabrics, construction and technical features.

Yosuke Aizawa, Designer, White Mountaineering said “I grew up with an understanding of Barbour and from our first collection together, I believe I have created collections which incorporate both White Mountaineering’s design and Barbour’s original functionality. The more you get to know Barbour’s history and the North East of England’s landscape, the more you feel interested and excited about the brand’s craftsmanship. It is in this amazing environment that our creation is being carried out.”

What’s your favourite piece of clothing?

Barbour ANTIQUE A7. Lightweight Wax international from 1978. Beautiful worn hickory/ black 6 oz black motorcycle jacket. Grey cord collar and plain black capped snaps.

If you could only wear one brand for the rest of your life who would it be?

Well I’d have to say Barbour quite genuinely as it’s just so timeless and offers such a great wearable range for so many ages. It’s that great understated style and reserve and rugged construction that’s so appealing.

For Formal I still like Paul Smith. His mainline is great and he uses lots of really interesting influences. Properly cut suits in my opinion. If his brand was a dog it would be an Irish Wolfhound. Effortlessly stylish.

Who is your style icon?

Michael Caine. Sharp and smart but masculine. In his heyday he looked properly cool but not as if he’d spent half an hour thinking about it.

Clint Eastwood in the 1970’s especially the Dirty Harry films. Outrageously cool haircut and sharp style.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

About business- Sales are Vanity, profit is sanity, cash is king. And make sure you choose your business partners with care.

I do like Groucho Marx’s view. –something like- “Life is about Honesty and Fair dealing and if you can fake that you’ve got it made”

What are you most excited about at the moment?

The new Star Wars Film directed by JJ Abrams. He’s a great homage Director and although I’m not a Star Wars loon I saw all the original films as a boy when they were first released and totally loved them.

I’m excited about buying a new car- Audi RS6- the Mike Tyson of the Motoring World or a classic 911 which is all about the drive. I do a lot of research and stretch it out. Been saving for these so looking forward to finally making a decision.

If you could collaborate with one brand, who would it be?

I’d like to collaborate with one of the original Massimo Osti Brands such as CP or Stone Island. They were icons when I was growing up and his design ethos was extremely impressive. I’d also like to work with an industrial designer like Tom Dixon or Marc Newman as they would bring a totally different mind-set to the product.

If you could live anywhere where would it be and why?

San Francisco. Love it there. It’s where I got married. The climate. The food. The fact you can drive up or down the western Seaboard up to Seattle or Down to San Diego and its all so evocative and exciting.

Closer- actually North west Majorca. Stunning, great food, great hikes, great weather really easy to get anywhere in Europe in a few hours.

imageFavourite hotel in the world?

Hotel Tresaunton. St Mawes. A lesson in how a small hotel should be run. Its owned by Alex Polizzi so it should be good and it is. Great location, laidback but totally professional staff, lovely food.

If you could give your teenage self some advice, what would it be?

Don’t sweat the small stuff and buy your own Wahl hair clippers and give yourself a number 4. You never look back.

How did you get into the industry, what was your big break?

When I left University ( I studied Politics) I worked as an electricians mate during the housing boom in Buckinghamshire. Eventually I moved back to London after earning some money and thought I should find a “ Proper,” job. I eventually got a job at Arthur Andersen in London as a Management Consultant. On my first day I was given a plastic briefcase and calculator. I thought this isn’t me and promptly left immediately. I walked back across the Strand and up through Covent Garden and happened to pass the Paul Smith Shop on Floral St where there was a small hand written sign in the window saying “ Help wanted”

I went in and met Paul and worked for him for 14 years. I loved it.

Who would be your ideal diner guests?

Icon- Ernest Shackleton. His book “South” and the story of the doomed Endurance expedition is totally inspiring. Vanessa Paradis. You’d just have to wouldn’t you?

What piece of clothing would you relegate to Room 101?

I have a pair of old “Ball “ jeans from Italy bought years ago in the “ Underground Market “ in Manchester. The’re really baggy. It’s really not a good look either then or now.

The Autumn 2015 Barbour X White Mountaineering Collaboration Preview

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