An Interview with Paget Billingsley, Head of Womenswear at Barbour

To celebrate the Autumn 2017 Barbour collection landing in store at Fenwick Tunbridge Wells, we spoke to Head of Womenswear, Paget Billingsley.

Barbour is already feeling the changes being made by Paget Billingsley, Head of Womenswear for Autumn 2017. Long renowned for being one of the best British outerwear brands, focusing on quilted and waxed jackets and 100% waterproof outerwear, today Barbour is so much more than that - now a global lifestyle brand with a wardrobe of clothes for men, women and children. The Barbour women’s customer now appreciates more fashion inspired styles and so progression has been made to explore the more feminine side of the collections.

We spoke to Paget about the new collections and her top 6 picks for the season ahead...

As Head of Womenswear, can you let us know the inspiration behind the autumn collection?

For Autumn Winter 17, the Barbour collections are inspired by our Barbour way of life. We really do love to celebrate the location of the country we live in and find a huge amount of inspiration locally. For instance the Coastal collection is inspired by the dramatic North East coast and the natural life that can be found in and around this stunning coastline. Within this range our outerwear is stylish but ultimately practical - there are some really lovely wax shapes plus the quilts have a great new sport inspired look. This is very relevant to what’s happening in fashion this season. For Barbour International, our brand inspired by our motorcycle heritage since 1936, this is designed for a different pace of life and takes a more urban ethos. This season we really wanted to explore the more feminine side of the collection. It’s modern, contemporary and very wearable with a softer ‘girly’ touch than in previous seasons. The sports luxe aesthetic is quite strong this season’ which I love.

Barbour is renowned as an outerwear brand, Why the change in direction to more of a lifestyle brand?

When we look back to the earliest Barbour catalogues from the early 1900s, our founder John Barbour was already offering a wardrobe of clothes for his customers with shirts, knitwear, footwear and accessories included alongside our famous outerwear. Therefore our collections today are really an extension of what we have always done - providing practical, high quality, fit for purpose, stylish clothing for a country and city lifestyle. As a totally female design team, we can honestly say we love clothes and when we design the outerwear collection we always have in mind how we would want to wear the clothes ourselves and the ‘perfect’ outfit that would go underneath. It makes sense that we should move into offering a whole lifestyle collection. For us it has always been about the ‘outfit’.

How would you describe the women’s Barbour customer? How has she changed?

Over the past three seasons I have definitely seen a change in the style of product our end consumers are buying. Our iconic, heritage inspired styles have proven to be timeless and ageless but at the same time our more fashion inspired styles are increasingly seeing strong appreciation from customers which is exciting for us. I love looking at the Barbour People Instagram where I can see real people styling our clothing in their own way. This makes me very happy because it’s exactly what Barbour is - a brand you can style and a brand you can style and express yourself in. I would also add that our customers expect our collections to stay true to our Barbour heritage and they trust us to always offer something that is not only stylish and desirable but also ultimately practical and functional. We are as much customers of our brand as the end consumer is and we never want to disappoint them. Every season there are constant discussions in the design studio about designing for our Barbour customer and have we delivered the best assortment we possibly can to keep our customers happy.

The quilted jacket is a key fashion trend for autumn, how has Barbour incorporated the puffer style jacket into the autumn collection?

Quilted jackets are such versatile items for a woman’s wardrobe. Lightweight, warm and flattering, it’s not a surprise that they continue to be a popular female wardrobe staple. The new developments in feather free wadding puffer jackets is something we at Barbour have fully embraced for the last few seasons. New for Autumn Winter 17, our Barbour collections have been inspired by the latest trend for ‘off duty cool’ puffer style jackets and there are some lovely casual sports jackets in strong bright colours. In Barbour International we have sport luxe inspired quilted puffer cropped parkas and mid length puffer coats with a great contemporary and feminine aesthetic. They’re great fun to wear!

Discover Paget's top picks from the collection below and why, visit Barbour in the Womenswear Department at Fenwick Tunbridge Wells to find these and more new season fashion.

Hive Knit Sweater, £89.95

"A super cool stripe sweater - it really makes an outfit and is such fun to wear."

Shipper Quilt Coat, £169

"The navy colourway is just so versatile- it works well with rinse or distressed jeans but can be worn over smarter clothes. An absolute go to outerwear piece."

Suliven Top, £49.95

"A really easy to wear top that looks great and is very versatile, it’s one you’ll wear again and again."

Mondello roll collar jumper, £129

"A beautiful shape and the cloud colour looks so fresh and takes a more urban ethos."

Freestone Tunic, £79.95

"A gingham tunic that is comfortable and yet looks so on trend - it’s a win win outfit."

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