As a premium men’s outerwear brand, Barbour is legendary for its jackets. The flagship Barbour jacket is most certainly the Barbour Beaufort, thanks to its unique waxed coating that provides much of the iconic look that Barbour aficionados have come to know and love.
But there’s a wrench in the works when it comes to choosing what type of Barbour Beaufort. There are two major categories of this jacket: the Beaufort Classic and the Beaufort Original.
You’re going to need to decide between Beaufort Classic vs. Original, and you need to know which is which – and why one might be better for you than the other. Here’s what you need to know to aid your own decision.
The Differences Are More than Skin Deep
The primary differences between a Beaufort Classic and a Beaufort Original involve the type of waxed coating applied to the jacket.
You would think that this isn’t much of a difference but, contrary to what you might otherwise assume, this single difference has a major impact on the way your jacket looks, feels, wears, and ages over time.
This can be a little mind-bending. It turns out that the Beaufort Classic uses a finishing method known as sylkoil, while the Beaufort Original uses a waxed cotton finish, sometimes referred to as a “thornproof finish” by Barbour.
The tricky part here is that the Classic’s use of sylkoil is actually an older method, where the Original uses a more modern method. Unfortunate taxonomy choices aside, it’s the sylkoil vs. thornproof coating that makes the biggest difference when it comes to Classic vs. Original.
Why Two Different Coatings In the First Place?
These two types of wax coating methods have their individual pros and cons related to aesthetics and wear, but why use two different methods at all besides that? The truth is that the history of the Barbour brand itself is tied to these coatings.
As an outerwear fashion line that dates back to Britain in the 1800s and has a history of providing weatherproof coats for the seafaring industry of its time, Barbour’s waterproofing methods have evolved to keep up.
Tradition means a lot to Barbour, and this is why the company still produces jackes with its iconic sylkoil finish while also offering its line of Beaufort Original jackets using a waxed cotton finish.
Sylkoil is older, more traditional, from a time when more modern finishing methods had yet to be developed. However, it’s no better or worse than thornproof waxed cotton finishing – they each offer specific aesthetics that are ideal for different situations.
The Beaufort Classic Sylkoil Finish
The Beaufort Classic’s sylkoil finish is known as an “unshorn” wax. The cotton material of a Beaufort classic receives this finish directly after it leaves the loom, while there’s still some slight fluffiness to the weave. Then, the cotton is waxed and dyed.
This gives the Beaufort Classic a more subdued, matte finish when compared to the Beaufort Original. This often brings out the character of the weave itself, highlighting the rich variations in the color and texture. Over time, the Beaufort Classic often becomes more comfortable to wear as the sylkoil cotton finish softens.
The Beaufort Original Waxed Cotton Finish
The Beaufort Original has a waxed cotton finish. This finish is also often called “thornproof”, and it’s applied differently than the sylkoil finishes used for their Beaufort Classic outerwear. The cotton is calendared first by running it through heated rollers. This seals the fabric’s weave, resulting in a matte finish on one side of the fabric and a glossy finish on the other.
These thornproof finishes on the Beaufort Original are said to be more rip-resistant and weatherproof than on a Beaufort Classic. That being said, the aesthetics are very different. Waxed cotton offers deeper, smoother, and more subtle colors. It mutes the character of the textile itself in order to provide that better durability.
The result is slightly stiffer, more glossy-looking outer jacket. It has a more “formal” or urban look, unlike the Beaufort Classic’s much more rough-and-tumble country-style aesthetic.
Which Beaufort Style Is Right For Me?
Still unsure of what type of Barbour Beaufort jacket finish is the “best”? You’re kind of still barking up the wrong tree. It depends on what type of characteristics you’re looking for.
The perfect Beaufort for one person will be completely inappropriate for another. This makes your decision a difficult one. You’ll need to consider the different characteristics of a Classic vs. an Original.
A Beaufort Classic offers a completely different aesthetic experience than a Beaufort Original. This is true even while the cut and style are otherwise identical. The Beaufort Classic offers a traditional finish that highlights the characteristics of the cotton that makes it so distinctive. The weave and texture of the cotton come forward, underscoring its beauty but also revealing every little imperfection.
To many this adds character – to others, it just shows stains much too readily. At the same time, the Beaufort Classic and is less stiff to wear. It offers old-school character in spades, and is an excellent choice for when you’re braving the wilds.
The waxed cotton of a Beaufort Original, meanwhile, might offer some better durability due to the whole “thornproof” moniker. However, these jackets are best worn in situations where you won’t be braving the brambles of the English countryside.
Waxed cotton’s stiffness makes the Beaufort Original slightly stiffer to wear until broken in. The finish is also much more formal and urban thanks to its deeper color and shine. Additionally, it’s much more forgiving when it comes to hiding stains.
You won’t get the same pleasing texture you’ll get from a Beaufort Classic, though. In the end, the choice is yours, so choose wisely!
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