Photo by Salt Water New England

Sunday, January 23, 2022

The Barbour-crumb Tinies

Here is a Gorey musing from a few years back (with one update) of how economics, technology, social media, and customer behaviors can kill any great product.  

To wit, Barbour jackets:  

A is for America's market, not Britain's
B is for Brand creep:  wallets and mittens
C is for Chairman and payout, the max
D is for "Designed now so no need to wax"
E is for Emmys, worn there as an item
F is for Fire, a fast way to dry 'em
G is for "Growth!" on employee screen savers
H is for Heirs who are pro sports team cravers
I is for Ironic:  high heels and no liners
J is for Joint venture with hip designers
K is for Knock-offs at Penney's and Sears
L is for LBO's full of arrears
M is for MBA's margins and throughputs
N is for New products made for the outlets
O is for Outsource to China and Turkey
P is for Precious, not worn when it's murky
Q is for Quick buck, to bolster the stock
R is for Retiring – run out the clock
S is for Soccer moms sans perspiration
T is for TikTok, the new inspiration
U is for Unwaxed, just like Army surplus
V is for Vineyard Vines' poached staff and bonus
W is for Washer, “just trying to clean it"
X is for Xtra large sizes that don't fit
Y is for Young folks who tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet,
Z is for Zippers not for the weak

I thought of this yesterday when a reader sent the following:

Love the blog. Just interested to what you and your readers think of Barbours at Costco and what they’re having to do quality wise to hit that $99 price point they’re selling them for:

<https://www.costco.com/barbour-ladies'-beadnell-waxed-cotton-jacket.product.100475000.html>

Here is a screen shot in case you don’t have a Costco membership:



27 comments:

  1. That was brilliant! I love Edward Gorey's work - used to live in the same town as he did. Saw him in the P.O. a few times.

    Barbour in Costco!?! What has this world become.

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  2. At only $100, that Barbour Beadnell is worth a try. If the quality is poor, can it be returned to Costco?

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    1. From the Costco website: "This item is covered by Costco's guarantee to refund your purchase price if you are not completely satisfied. Costco's guarantee applies, even though this item may not be covered by the manufacturer's warranty, because Costco is not an "authorized" dealer of the merchandise."

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  3. The mind boggles! Thank you so very much!

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  4. The vintage Barbour with that warm waxy patina, a few patches, and the stories behind are priceless..and recognizable. Can't reduce that price.

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  5. Good Lord! It's the end of the world as we know it!

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  6. This is a hoot! It's also the sad truth. I am very confused about the Beadnell being sold at Costco for a quarter of its usual retail price. Something has gone completely off the rails, and this clever post explains exactly why.

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  7. I have had a Barbour Beaufort jacket for what, 30 years? Rewaxed myself every 7 or 8 years or so, usually just the shoulders and pockets. Worn it in rain, snow, around town, hunting in the field, and fishing in the canoe. I know all the stuff about them being warm and breathing and all that, but I never found any of that to be true. A jacket lined with goretex over a heavy wool sweater is much better at expelling perspiration and keeping you warm.

    The sole area in which my Barbour jacket excels is in its sheer toughness in the field. I've had thorns in stickybush patches that got through my chaps, but that just slid off the Barbour. And its's waterproof to boot. So, the right tool for the job, and don't expect to pound nails with your ratchet.

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    1. Concur with assessment of layering under a Barbour based on my experience with The Bedale & Endurance Jackets.

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    2. Yes indeed - with a heavy wool sweater and a down vest underneath my Border - and I'm bulletproof to nasty weather!

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  8. Costco sells some luxury goods. Depending on location, one might find Omega watches, for example. The legend about the warranty/guarantee is a concern. Somehow, i doubt Costco would sell grey goods, too much possible liability. If Barbour has gone ‘Made for Costco’ and sacrificed quality, that would be unfortunate.

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  9. I have owned several Barbour waxed jackets made between the early 80's and 2012. I have noticed zero difference in quality between them. If you are buying their flagship, waxed, made in England jackets, they are the same quality and product as always (Beaufort, Beadnell, Classic Bedale, and Border.) Nowadays Barbour makes a ton of other junk that is made overseas and sell it for cheap to people who want to wear legible fashion. It is junk but the people who want it do not care about quality, they just want their friends to see that posh logo. Good on Barbour for doing this: they maintain the quality stuff for people who want it, and balance their budget by selling junk to the uninformed. These $100 Beadnell jackets are made in England and Costco is selling them as a "loss leader." Costco loses money on the sale but it generates excitement and interest and the hope is people will buy a Costco membership to buy this jacket. Costco makes the loss up through other sales once they are a new member. Capitalism.

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    1. Very sad. I have owned 2 Classic Bedales so far and yes, I have noticed the difference in quality, mostly in waxing. I purchased my jacket at the dealer store in Vienna and they never stocked these tacky t-shirts or whatever with big BARBOUR logo shouting from one's chest. Very disappointing, I used to like them very much (and I still do) since it's still a family run business. I have no idea what Costco is (probably only American market) but I do hope very much that our favourite clothes manufacturers will survive this pandemic (and not only) rollercoaster.

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  10. The Barbour downfall began about 2000. Could’ve been 2001. I can vividly remember the catalog changing from maybe 20 pages of classic Barbours actually being used by hunters and anglers. They looked like actual users and not models. The next year the catalog was much longer with many more products, some of the old ones gone, and all worn by young models. Filson followed shortly thereafter. I wish I’d kept those catalogs for the record. GLH

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    1. Do you hunt or fish (or log timber)? I think most outdoorsmen buy their gear at Cabela's. Loggers buy their jeans and hickory shirts from Bailey's or Madsen's, probably in person. Everybody else goes to REI.

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  11. The Orvis goods sold at Costco are not to the Orvis standard and are not sold by Orvis via stores or catalog.

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    1. Yes, Orvis and Barbour are selling cheap knock-off versions of many of their popular items.

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    2. I tried on a Beadnell bearing the Orvis logo the other day. I was ready to purchase until I noticed extremely poor stitching around the cuff. I pointed this out to the sales person who offered to place an order for me. I declined. As I was leaving I observed the sales person returning the jacket to the rack. Sad. It should have been sent back to HQ. in VT.

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    3. Last year I purchased an item online from Orvis that was shipped to me from one of their stores (not a fulfillment center) and it had a size defect so I had to return it. I was told by an Orvis employee that the items offered in their stores are often defective because of all the returns they receive and put back on the rack. It's good that you noticed the poor stitching!

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    4. Egads!!! An Orvis employee told you that? Sadly I have been unimpressed with Orvis for quite a while. They’ve gone the way of Bean.

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  12. Is it available at Costco in sizes other than a women's 2? If not, that might explain it.

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    1. Also, it appears to be available only in black.

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  13. This is great news for all of us who love a bargain.

    Now if Costco would just start selling Dufour 61 Yachts for $10,000, and 2022 Rolls Royce Phantoms for $25,000, I'll definitely consider joining and becoming a member.

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  14. You have to be a Costco member to buy what amounts to cheap imitations of once very solid products

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  15. Love the rhyme. I think you are ready for the big time -- maybe take on Rilke or T.S. Eliot next? How about "The Love Song of J. Alfred Pru's Frock"?

    On the Costco thing, I can't get as upset as I probably should do. I'd rather people were walking around in that jacket than the usual denim or athleisure wear. Maybe that's a false choice. But when I've just learned that Brooks Brothers is selling $148 Tigger sweaters I'm inclined to give Costco and Barbour a break.

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    1. I like your reply; it's putting a positive spin on it and I'd rather have a Costco Barbour Beadnell, which still does a good job, than a garish B2 Tigger jumper.

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  16. I recently purchased a Barbour Beadnell (not from Costco) and it meets my needs: a barn jacket that takes a beating and still looks nice. It is warm, sufficiently water-resistant for outdoor riding, and is not irritatingly noisy like a nylon parka. Dirt, grass stains and green/brown horse dribble don’t show on the olive color, as well. I would recommend it for utility, and I like that the company is family-owned. Mine is not made in China.

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