Thursday, 4 April 2013

Hunter & Barbour: Wearing Countryside Heritage In The City

My wish list is full of things that I would like right now, but are better suited to my in England life of bouncing back and forth between London and the Kentish countryside than my current state of living in Los Angeles where the current Spring weather is something I would liken to probably the one or two only truly 'hot' days we get in England, but for weeks at a time. There are brands like Joules (I did manage to wear one of their padded jackets in January when it got a little chilly here), Cath Kidston and Jack Wills (yes, Jack Wills, don't look at me like that!) which I adore and I can still intergrate into my Los Angeles wardrobe, but there are some, which some Angelenos try to incorporate that would just be plain hilarious. 
Hunter Original Gloss wellies in Wisteria lilac purple
Kristabel from I Want You To Know modelling the Hunter Original Gloss style in Wisteria I've been coveting.

There are two brands in particular which whenever I see them worn in Los Angeles causes me no end of amusement  one more prevalent than the other. They are two great British heritage brands, made fashionable as well as functional in recent years: Hunter who make wellington boots (not rain boots Americans, wellington boots) and Barbour, maker of wax jackets. Hunter wellies are something I see all the time here, sold in every department store and I see on everyones feet any time rain is forecast  And by forecasted rain in Los Angeles, I mean something us Brits would not even justify as spitting. I found this hysterical when I first arrived here, and after 7 months it still baffles me. Hunters to me are the traditional wellington which I usually wear on an actual farm. Mine may be pale pink, one of the fashion colours they made before they started making the newer shiny fashion colours, but they are covered in farm mud and very worn in. They are long, and pretty hard to get on and off with a good heel. I mentioned all of this, is because it is these last two factors on the classic Hunter boot that make them so good for riding a horse in or rambling through the Kentish countryside. On New Years Day year before last I could be found rambling around near my best friend Kathryn's village, with the rest of her village and their dogs wearing mine over a pair of nice bright blue Farlows of Pall Mall shooting socks. I collect thick bright socks to wear inside my Hunters.
DSC_0258
Before the New Years Day walk 2011. Traditional countryside Hunters bottom left.

Hunters were basically that for me, to be worn on a farm or on muddy country walks for me for quite a while before I moved to London, which coincided for me with Hunter starting to make more 'fashion' styles, which is what I like to call their 'city' styles; wellies people who actually need country wellies won't use them for, but something that even will want a pair for, not to wear in the regular London rain, but in the snow. I remember going with Kathryn to buy her 'city' pair on Oxford Street last February, and I have had my eye on their shiny lilac pair ever since they first appeared in their new season ad in my sidebar. I'm rather jealous of my friend Kristabel right now, who has just styled that pair for Hunter's current Blogger Style Series. Recently I've been playing around with new shopping search engine Style In View which pulls together products from loads of different online retailers all into one place, and it is staggering how many different Hunter colours, shapes and styles you can find on there to choose from.
barbour
This photo from Barbour's official Instagram is what a Barbour should like like to me; well worn and loved!

I think I have only seen a couple of Barbours worn in Los Angeles, and everyone has looked stupid and out of place in them, even in the Liberty pint one I saw. The only place I have seen anything by Barbour on sale in LA was in the Opening Ceremony store, and even then it was one of their lighter waterproof jackets rather than their classic wax style. A Barbour to me has always been the classic countryside jacket. Every farmer or friends parents from the countryside I know has one, and to me a good Barbour is like my fathers massive or my mothers which I sometimes slip on when I'm going outside on a cold day very loved and worn in but still impossibly warm versatile and waterproof. I have always, always wanted one. As with Hunters, my view of them shifted somewhat when I moved to London. I could not get my head around the fact that everyone in the city, most of whom the idea of the countryside terrified or baffled them had Barbour wax jackets. Bankers wore them over their suits on the tube, and even Barbour I had seen was so impossibly new looking. My bafflement was impacted at a press evening I spent messing around the Pall Mall store of the quintessential countryside outfitters, shooting and fishing suppliers Farlows. I was clearly the only person at that event aside from the people in the store who had ever been to the countryside, let along ridden a horse or done something like clay pigeon shooting. But then, after a while, I came around to the idea of a Barbour in the city, rather in the countryside  Like with the Hunters, I just needed to think of a different type of Barbour, that was all. For me, this different type of Barbour comes in the form of their Liberty print styles. I am currently coveting one from their second round of print styles, this dark blue wax jacket lined with a feather print. Again, as with the Hunters, another countryside heritage brand I have grown up with I was shocked when I searched for them using Style In View and I found how many styles, colours and designs are now available


I know I always end most of my posts with a question, and sorry to my American readers, especially on the West Coast who I think I've made fun of a bit today but this is for my British readers: if you are from the countryside, how do you feel about our traditional brands being reappropriated by city dwellers, and Londoners, did you consider wearing brands like Hunter and Barbour in the city before 'fashion' collections were produced. 

This is a sponsored post. To read my policy on sponsored posts, please click here.

18 comments:

  1. Hunters are now made in china and apparently no longer have the build quality to make them suitable for the actual countryside. Basically they are now overpriced brightly coloured tat!

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  2. Yes they are now made in China, but I honestly can't tell the difference in quality. I've worn and used pairs of the Hunter Orignal from before and after they started being manufactured in China. My current pair, made in China while I think I gave up riding horses before I got them, I have literally walked probably about 100 miles in them through all conditions of the Great British countryside they were designed for and they have held up splendidly, and the only reason I want more pairs is to get some pretty coloured ones for the city, and perhaps a navy pair for the country. This is the original tall though, you can tell by just looking at some of the newer styles that they are not suitable for the country, but I'm pretty sure they were not designed with walking through muddy fields, climbing fences and mucking out stables in mind! Oh, and I just want to point out while this is a sponsored post it was not paid for by Hunter; I endorse their products because I think they are really old and I would recommend them to any of my friends who asked, that was if they did not already own at least one pair, which most of them do!

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  3. I agree with you. It makes me laugh a bit if i see people in the city wearing Barbour when i can almost be certain they have never got stuck in a field or chased a horse in the rain, lead rope in hand. Hunters, not so much. I have a few pairs and am guilty of having some bright coloured ones too but like you said, mine are covered in mud and are only cleaned if i walk through a puddle. They seem to be more fashionable now which is great but to me these brands will always be reminders of country dwellers :)

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  4. I smiled a lot at the horse image. I have not been on a horse since my very early teens, and I only rode every week as a child; thankfully I was considered to little to actually catch the horse to have many memories like that! And honestly? My very pale pink pair even puddles cannot clean now!

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  5. Definitely get a barbour, you won't regret it :) x

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  6. I have grown up in the countryside and despite never riding a horse, I feel like I am a qualified country dweller! ;) I have a pair of Hunter wellies which I have used regularly over a few years for muddy walks, floods, snow etc but I wouldn't dream of wearing them as a fashion statement as they *just* are my wellies (however nice they are!)

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  7. I love my Hunter Wellingtons, I have three pairs, glossy black for wearing for work and going into town, fuchsia pink which I wear with Denim Shorts and black Tights for fun nights with my friends and navy blue for country walks in fact Wellingtons are very popular now and not only worn in wet weather.
    Thank you so much for your post.
    Julie
    x

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  8. This is something that's niggled me for so, so long. Home for me is on a farm in Derbyshire, but I'm at University in Belfast. And even in Belfast, possibly the most compact UK city, you get city dwellers in Barbour's that look fresh out of the store, and Hunter's in colours that just don't look right (I'm very traditionalist!). These were originally the uniform of my Grandad, never thought I'd see people trying to make a fashion statement with them..can't believe they're wearing them in LA though ha! Very pleased for the brands though, I imagine these trends have bought them a world of business.

    I really enjoy reading through your blog, this year I'm heading to Aus (not LA but equally sunny!) and I imagine reading it will come in use at times.Thanks :) x

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  9. It wasn't until I moved to Yorkshire that Barbours and Hunters and all of that very British countryside stuff started to appeal to me - now I crave a country walk followed by a pub lunch in front of the fire, all wrapped up in wellingtons and a wax jacket! I do quite like the styling, it's all very heritage chic and I think that with all the snow we've been having, a pair of Hunters doesn't look out of place anywhere!

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  10. Wow, the color of those wellies are amazing. May need to invest in a pair as it seems winter is still upon us here.

    My mom insists on wearing Hunters and Barbour jackets, even though I've told her countless times they're so out of place in LA. She even has an Aga in our kitchen. The woman is clearly in denial about where she lives.

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  11. Wait, areal AGA in Los Angeles? While I miss cooking on mine so much that is just plain crazy. Please at least tell me it is one of those electronic ones hat can be tuned on and off and is no hot all the time? I sleep I n the room above the kitchen in my parents house and in Summer the hea from I makes it slightly hot to sleep in my room, and hat is in Enland, where the hottest it gets is the weather we are having at the moment!

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  12. oh no, it's gas operated, so it's not one of the traditional ones that stay hot all the time! could you imagine...I don't think that would be possible to own one in California and not die of heatstroke in your own home. I visited a friends home in the Cotswolds and even there it made the house almost uncomfortably warm! I have to say though, even though it's not traditional, it's an amazing stove. I miss baking in it so much!

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  13. I miss just having something instantly hot, and having the warming oven. Also, as long as you are wearing thick jeans or you sit on top of a pair of oven gloves or something, I also like sitting on top of mine (with the lips closed!) in Winter!

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  14. Read your first sentence back to yourself and see if it makes any sense at all!
    Who sponsored the post if not Hunter? Barbour?

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  15. It made sense to me, but I've hopefully now clarified it as I know sometimes things can make sense to the people who wrote them, but not as much to other people!


    And this post was not sponsored by either Hunter or Barbour, both brands I independently endorse. This post was sponsored by Style In View.

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