Barbour, is it far out?

Barbour, is it far out?

Posted by Chris Francis on

‘Like… OMG, you can't go out wearing a Barbour Quilted coat like that. It's bare gay!’, I hear.
'Bosh! Rot! Crap! Bullshit! Bollocks!’ is what I retort!

'Bosh'(1834-), 'Rot'(1846-), 'Crap’ (1898-)’, 'Bullshit' (1915-) and'Bollocks' (1919-). Not until recently did I comprehend the fact that I was using such old terminology.

'Like' was first used as an interjection in 1778 by the Georgians; the expression 'hang-out' is a Victorian expression; who knew that 'tool' meant 'penis’ back in 1553? The remarkable history of our ever expanding slang vocabulary is fascinating. Society from all classes has been creating slang for centuries, with it eventually being integrated into the English language. The Beats, the Hippies, gypsies, the army, colleges, computer nerds Facebook users, Victorians, Georgians, all contributing towards a richness of language that trouble and offend the purist line of the English language.

It mischievously led me to contemplate how people wearing clothes were given a compliment at various periods of history. At Philip Browne we have for a decade or so, been re-inventing old English brands, that otherwise could have fallen by the wayside, or simply been left to the customer base they have always had. What expressions were possibly being used when some of our brands were first worn within the marketplace, how did one refer to Barbour coats? Did one refer to mens Barbour as 'amazing', 'fantastic', 'wicked' or ’banging'?

The users of slang, although by definition creative, they are no more creative than the Oxford English Dictionary. The general use of slang today, it appears, is defined by teenagers and young adults, who, during the mid twentieth century started to define themselves through language. School leaving ages raised and they were in education longer. Re-inventing phrases and slang that re-maps their social position away from their parents, or society in general, became more expansive and common. As a group, teenagers socialise and are educated together. To be 'cool' or 'uncool' is a good example of how even slang meaning becomes redefined in different decades. You can't have an 'in-crowd' unless you leave somebody out of it. Without uncool, there is no cool.

Barbour quilted jackets were so uncool since the purveyors of this look were, in general, the gentry and country folk. At Philip Browne, we mixed up Barbour coats with Vivienne Westwood and mens Barbour with Y-3, 'That's like, so random!’; so 'Snazzy'(1931-); so 'Fabulous'(1959-).

The Barbour coats purchase for a boutique like ours, were at the offset, a retail experiment you could describe as 'winging it' - MusicHall slang(1883-): to undertake a performance, or any other activity without the necessary preparation’.

Since Barbour have been purveyors of clothing since 1894, they must have been described in a myriad of words and sentences during this illustrious manufacturing period. “I say old boy, that Barbour jacket is so damned pukka”. ‘Pukka’(1776- Hindu and Urdu) meaning genuine, reliable and high class, sliding into the current slang usage ‘excellent’(1991-), and used by Jamie Oliver.

The continual mutation of our slang language is a fascinating form, from a descriptive eighteen year-old expressing to me on the shop floor, that the new collection of Barbour is "sick" and “phat" was, at the first encounter, very alarming! I was under the impression that he wasn't too impressed with the displayed Barbour quilts that I saw and perceived as being ‘bang on trend’ (fashion buyers jargon). After this initial run in, as I now know, and understand to be a compliment, I have realised that it's not so much a generation gap on what I perceive as being 'fashionable’, it's a verbal generation gap, and one where I am learning the boundaries. Is Barbour ‘cool’(1918-)? Is it 'dashing'(1795-) and is it worth the dough (money, 1848-)? You decide. I myself think its all very 'far out'(1954-).