The great VBC tailoring and Western alliance: Barbanera

To assert that Barbanera simply add a Western edge to tailoring would be doing them a genuine disservice. Behind the fusion are charismatic and highly creative inputs mixed in with an intellectual understanding of fabrics. It’s the reason they’ve single-handedly inspired folk to follow suit outside of America.

The West has always been a setting for great stories, myths and icons. In the autumn of 1977, the final pages of Ralph Lauren’s second Polo retail catalogue pictured a male model walking a horse through the mountains of Montreal, Canada. He was wearing a long mouton-collar storm coat over jeans, and a dinner jacket, and a cowboy hat that belonged to Ralph. Les Goldberg, who photographed the catalogue said: “That hat has some history – it was a prop off a John Wayne movie. Even if the American population didn’t know that fact, that one shot unlocked a lifestyle that people wanted to be part of, and it wasn’t fashion that did it, it was the story. By 1979 when the Polo Western line was released with the tagline “made to be worn”, it not only validated the return of the traditional garments of the Wild West into people’s consciousness, but gave it a liberation to jibe with other forms of dress.

As Ralph Lauren has demonstrated with his own style, the rugged spirit of the Western frontier is a compatible companion to tailoring. In Europe it’s been something of a slow burner. However, the last decade has seen garments from the Wild West merge with tailoring with greater gusto. One brand that has accelerated this renaissance is Barbanera. Whilst they’ve played a leading role in this shift, part of the reason for their success is because they’re not a Western brand. Co-founder and creative director Sergio Guardi once told The Rake: “We may be influenced by Western style, but we try to create pieces utilising different materials or with different fit and details – we make them all our own”.

Contributor

Freddie Anderson

Published

October 2021

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