Founded in 1894 in South Shields in the northeast of England. The first John Babour developed a cloak made of waxed cotton made of high-density cotton so that local dockworkers could work in bad weather. The sturdy, cold, windproof and water-repellent wax jacket quickly spread to Britain and added to Babour’s fame. It is known as a Royal Warrant brand. Currently, the company is developing collections for men, women, kids, and dogs, and proposes a wide range of items that add color to lifestyles, such as outerwear, shirts, dresses, knitwear, and shoes. The company has directly managed stores in 55 countries around the world.
Experience the masterpiece of the wax jacket, the limited model
Babour currently has seven stores in Hokkaido, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. The company closed its directly managed stores from February to March 2022, and since April 2022, Babour Partners Japan (BPJ), which is 100% owned by Mash Holdings, has been involved in the management of the brand, and has since started opening stores in urban areas. The Daikanyama store will be the flagship store, and it will be the first time that a roadside store has opened under the new system. In addition to embodying the world view of Babour, it was finished in a space that provides a brand experience that is unique to Japan.
The exterior of the store uses the brand color green, giving it a traditional and natural feel. At the entrance, the archival image of Babour is unfolded on the wall, and if you climb the three steps while feeling the history, you will open a wood-flavored sales floor inspired by the English country. “In the past, many of the stores in Babour were men’s floors of department stores, so at the Daikanyama store, we took advantage of the location of the street surface and focused on creating a space where female customers and couples can enjoy shopping slowly and calmly,” says Hidee Okabayashi, a press representative at BPJ.
Archival visuals at the entrance
English country-style wood-style sales floor
The sales floor is 168 square meters on one floor. Men’s and unisex outerwear are zoned on the left and right walls in the front half, a stage proposes seasonal collections such as collaboration items in the center, and accessories and dog items are zoned in the back, mainly for women. In addition to the iconic model of the wax jacket, the 2023-24 autumn/winter collection of attention such as the quilt collection and wool outerwear limited to Japan is lined up.
The opening featured a limited-edition model of BEAUFORT, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The Beaufort was designed in 1983 by Margaret Babour, the current chairman of Babour in the UK, and features a zipped game pocket on the back that can be accessed from both sides, and a length that hides a suit jacket. Starting with the stud buttons engraved with the number “40”, the inner patch with the symbol “Beacon” of South Shields in the northeast of England, where the company was founded, the pin badge with the “Beaufort” logo, and the lining made of the house tartan of the Babour family.
BEAUFORT 40th Anniversary Model
In addition, based on the concept of “WAX FOR LIFE,” which aims to realize sustainability through wax jackets, Babour is working on “Re-loved,” which collects wax jackets that have been used for a long time and can no longer be worn, and makes a new one by making use of the parts that can be used. This time, on the occasion of Beaufort’s 40th anniversary, we produced 40 Beaufort pieces from wax jackets collected at stores in Japan. Five of these were exhibited at the Daikanyama store. Each piece is tagged with the signature of Beaufort’s creator, Margaret Babour, the name of the remanufactured craftsman, and the serial number. It was a fan-favorite project in which one person will be given one place by online lottery (the lottery is currently closed). Re-Rabdo has not yet started in Japan, but we plan to make use of our physical stores to encourage it, and in the future we will create a system to circulate Babour products in Japan.
Beaufort of Les Rabdo
Along with Beaufort, Babour is positioned as an “evergreen icon”, and “BEDALE” and “BORDER” are also popular worldwide. The Bidale was released as an equestrian jacket in the 80s. In addition to wax cloth (a fabric made by impregnating high-density cotton with wax to increase water repellency, windproofness, and durability), each detail has a function, such as raglan sleeves that expand the range of motion of the shoulders and arms, side vents that take into account the hem when riding, and hand warmer pockets that make it easy to warm hands. The border is a long type above the knee, and the sleeves are dressy with set-in sleeves. As a field coat, it can be used in a wide range of outdoor scenes, and because it goes well with suits, its versatile specs that can be used in business scenes have continued to be popular since its release in ’82.
A lineup of classic quilts in the UK and wool planned in Japan
The quilt collection feels more light in Babour’s DNA, which goes to wax jackets. Details such as the corduroy collar and left and right patch pockets are inherited from the wax jacket, and the main body material is replaced with diamond-shaped diamond quilting. It has been praised for its basic design, which is light and comfortable to wear, has excellent heat retention, and is easy to wear, and since the first collection in ’79, it has divided its popularity with wax jackets in the UK and increased its variations. The bestseller is “LIDDESDALE”. Corduroy is applied to the collar as well as pockets and cuffs to accentuate the model, and the back is nylon processed to make it easy to wear over suits and sweaters, and the width of the side vents can be adjusted with snap buttons according to the application. There are also long quilts in length. All of them are unisex, and it is also attractive that they are “items that can be shared and worn with men”.
The wool outerwear collection, limited to Japan, is the first initiative of the season. There are two types: “SNOWDON”, which is based on the standard “BURGHLEY” of long coats, and “BORROWDALE”, which is based on the short-length blouson “TRANSPORT”, which is the most popular short blouson in Babour, and the Lumine Shinjuku store that opened this year, the Fujii Daimaru store in Kyoto, and the Daikanyama store, Each limited edition model was developed at the official online store. The Daikanyama store proposed Glen Check’s Snowdon. With a modern color scheme of grayish brown with a blue overpain, it is “an item that is easy to coordinate even for women who have never experienced wax jackets and is active as winter outerwear.”
Expanding women’s lineup, enriching options with unisex
One of the major changes that BPJ has made since it started operating the brand in Japan is that it has expanded its women’s product lineup, which has not been widely introduced in Japan until now. In addition to items that can be worn unisex, we have a wide range of items that fit the body shape of Japan women. “In terms of promotions, we are actively leasing to women’s magazines and strengthening our proposals for working women and women who are raising children while working,” and is promoting linkage with MDs in stores.
A stage to introduce recommended items for women
The women’s collection “Re-Engineered” features a corduroy collar that has been resized to twice as large as men’s and unisex wax items. Metal fittings such as zippers and snap buttons are unified in gold, and the silhouette suppresses ruggedness by dropping the trendy oversize into the A-line, creating a faint femininity. “Babour’s items have a sage body and a brown collar as the standard, but the women’s collar is a little different from the men’s, such as using beige for the collar to make the area around the face look brighter, and black to make the face look tighter.”
The “TOWNFIELD WAX COAT” is an item that symbolizes this season’s women’s clothing. The lining is a larger house check than the men’s, and if you fold the sleeves back, it becomes an accent and you can wear it cutely. The “MARSETT QUILTING COAT” of the same line has a military-style design and is highly versatile in coordination. The price of 44,000 yen (tax included) is also attractive, making it a “recommended item for women this season”.
It’s unisex and popular with women.However, the aforementioned waxed cotton transport and the short jacket “SPEY” devised for fly fishing. Both have short lengths and slightly wide-fit silhouettes that are gaining popularity in the oversize trend.
“MARSETT QUILTING COAT”
“TOWNFIELD WAX COAT”
The short length of “SPEY” is popular
“TRANSPORT” is Babour’s most popular short jacket
Not only outerwear, but also coordinated items such as shirts, hoodies, T-shirts, cargo, painter pants, knit caps, and scarves are available only at directly managed stores. T-shirts and tote bags with the “DAIKANYAMA” logo to commemorate the opening of the Daikanyama store are also popular. Rain goods are also available throughout the year, and there are plenty of simple and functional items such as ponchos and rain shoes. This spring, the rain boots, which received a great response from women, continue to be sold at the Daikanyama store. In addition, the only directly managed stores in Japan that carry popular dog items proposed as part of lifestyle proposals in their home country are the official online store, as well as the Daikanyama store and Fujii Daimaru store. There are various dog coats, harnesses, beds, etc. made of waxed cotton and tartan quilting, and future movements are attracting attention only in the Daikanyama area, where many people walk their dogs.
With a lineup of products that crosses daily life centered on unique outerwear, we aim to expand the recognition of Babour as a lifestyle brand.
A wide range of dog items for your dog
T-shirts and totes commemorating the opening of the Daikanyama store are also on sale.
A collaboration that expands the possibilities of Babour, “Rewax” that conveys the essence
The MD on the sales floor changes twice a year to match the spring/summer and autumn/winter collections, and new products are introduced every month according to the changes in the seasons and climate. Collaboration items with various brands are also available, and you can feel the new possibilities of Babour. Collaboration projects have been held one after another since the store opened.
The top batter is “Maison Kitsuné”. In the first collaboration, we have a variety of items such as Babour’s iconic wax jackets, quilted jackets, hoodies, sweatshirts, pants, tote bags, and more. All of them have a fox character and a Barbour logo. The British brand “Baracuta” is based on the concept of “Ivy League” and its style arranged in the UK in the 60s. From the end of October, we will develop collaboration items with the Italian outdoor wear brand “C.P. Company”. The outerwear, which combines the icons of both brands, is exactly the kind of expression that is unique to collaboration. From November 6th, they are developing collaboration items with the Danish-born women’s brand “GANNI”, which is rapidly gaining popularity in Japan.
Collaboration with “GANNI”
At the Daikanyama store, there is another space connected by the center of the sales floor. In the space in the foreground, a stage for “HERITAGE+” was set up, which is based on military wear and sublimated into a modern design by making full use of Babour’s DNA wax cloth and quilting. Flight jackets and mod coats such as MA-1 and L2-B create a balance between rugged masculinity and moderate lightness.
“HERITAGE+” started in the fall/winter of ’23-24
The other half of the space is the “Rewax Station”. It can be said that it is a place to convey the essence of wax jackets. Wax jackets lose their water repellency as the wax comes off after many years of wear, so maintenance = rewax is required. Regular rewaxing maintains functions such as water repellency and durability, and it is also attractive to “grow it into your own product”. At the Daikanyama store, a permanent rewax table is set up, and rewaxing of wax jackets brought in by customers is available for a fee. In the future, the company plans to hold events where customers can experience rewaxing. In the same space, a service to embroider names and initials on jackets purchased at the store is also available only at the Daikanyama store.
“Rewax station” that supports the care of reapplying a special waterproof wax
Special wax cans are also sold
We also offer an embroidery service for jackets purchased in stores
In addition to customers who are highly interested in fashion, the store opened in Daikanyama, which is visited by many foreign visitors to Japan, and the number of female customers and young customers visiting the store has steadily increased compared to the past. “Especially on weekends, there are many customers who come as couples,” he said. I would like to pay attention to branding in Japan in the future.
Photo by Jun Endo, courtesy of Babour Partners Japan
Interview and text: Masahiro Kubo
Masahiro Kubo is the editor-in-chief of the encoremode contributing editor website Journal Cubocci. Specially appointed professor at Sugino Fashion University. Representative Director and Chairman of the Tokyo Fashion Designers Association. While working at Senken Shimbun, he founded the free paper “SENKEN H”. He has served as editor-in-chief of the magazine and Paris bureau chief, and is currently a freelance journalist. He is also involved in consulting and marketing. In 2019, he became the EncoreMode Contributing Editor.