It’s very rare to get an item that is practical, and actually does keep you warm, and actually does what it says it does… and still looks good!
Magali Pettier and Jan Cawood of Tin Man Films fully understand that the primary purpose of a film is to tell a story, but they venture one step further as they specialize in teasing out the heart and soul of their subject matter with intimate narratives. Pettier and Cawood’s documentary, A Jacket for Life tells of the role a garment has in one’s life, specifically the time-honored Barbour jacket.
A constant companion for each wearer interviewed, Barbour manufactures more than a waxed cotton garment; the wearers reflect upon the essentially British jacket as if eulogizing a dear relative or family friend. One wearer speaks of her jacket (which had been passed down from her mother) as “easy going”, an amiable friend who “goes with everything”, and the wearer even goes so far as to add the jacket’s dedication through trials and tribulations, being nearly “soaked to death”, “beaten about” and ultimately providing warmth at nightfall as a sleeping bag.
The purchase of a Barbour jacket is considered a sound investment, designed under a timeless, authentically British aesthetic that refuses to deviate from the style and quality for which five generations have grown accustomed. Another wearer speaks of his jacket as “an old 1982 Barbour”, with a sentiment similar to speaking of a car, and he wistfully describes the journey his Barbour had traveled with him, from his work days as a youth in London, to his retired lifestyle in the English countryside. The factory which houses the manufacturing aspect of Barbour jackets resembles the nicety of a Bentley assembly line, as a relatively small work team lends meticulous attention to each item built, and a team of professionals is specifically assigned to surgically repair jackets hanging on by a thread.
Clad in blue and green dress uniforms, the customer service team of mostly women is called upon to nurture and develop relationships with one’s Barbour, as the eventual jacket repairs and alterations are deemed as important as a doctor’s visit. The relationship one has with their Barbour jacket is anticipated to be lifelong, and as such, a patch from excessive wear can be seen as a “badge of honor”, indicative of the years of wear put in. A Jacket for Life weaves a material of its own, with voices calling to mind the intimate relationship with our wardrobe: “I won’t get rid of it… even if I don’t wear it no more.”