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Barbour & Loake: Heritage & History

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has meant that both the Ken Varey Outdoor World store and online shop are currently closed for business. In this edition of our blog, we are focusing on two of the most popular brands of outdoor clothing that we supply: Loake Bedale and Barbour.

Loake Bedale


This hugely-influential footwear brand was established in Kettering in 1880 by three brothers: Thomas, John and William Loake. The footwear produced by this forward-thinking team combined robust performance with original style and was an immediate hit, prompting the trio to begin full-scale production just a few short years later.

Loake footwear is produced using a welted construction process invented more than 300 years ago, a process that is so successful that it remains mostly unchanged today. The Loake factory is still located in its hometown of Kettering and is now managed by Andrew Loake, who is the great-grandson of original co-founder John Loake. The company now exports its quality footwear all over the world and has produced over 50 million pairs of shoes and boots.


John Barbour established J. Barbour & Sons in 1894, as an importer of oilcloth. This line of business continued for a number of years until John's grandson, Duncan Barbour, joined the company. Duncan was a keen motorcyclist and began using the imported oilcloth to create waxed motorcycle jackets: an instant success, the jackets became the company's main product line, taking the company in a new direction.

The company's headquarters and main manufacturing facilities remain in Simonside, South Shields, where the business was originally established. Barbour currently holds the royal warrant to supply waterproof and protective clothing to Her Majesty the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales.

Ken Varey Outdoor Wear stock a comprehensive collection of clothes from these heritage brands and new stock will be added as soon as our staff are able to return to work. Find out more on our website: you can subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media ( witter and facebook) for the latest updates.

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