At a glance, the Barbour Boston does not look much different from the other high-end retailers crowding the Back Bay.
Nestled among neighboring boutiques at 134 Newbury St., the store has all the trimmings of its English heritage. Plaids and tweeds line the wall-mounted hangers, and each sleek coat or jacket is cut in classic silhouettes. The deep browns and olives that are folded on shelves parallel the dark wood grain in store’s main room. Equestrian-inspired gold buttons and buckles reflect onto the rich, scarlet rug. The little shop brings a sense of British countryside to the heart of the city. At this time of year, however, the English outerwear brand has more than its own quilted jackets hanging behind its doors.
As the Back Bay trees are strung with lights, Barbour Inc. also celebrates the approach of the holiday season with its annual coat drive. Now in its seventh year, the company has established this philanthropic tradition to benefit the communities that surround its many retail stores.
“Barbour is known for our outerwear collections and our long history of keeping people warm and comfortable with quality product,” Christopher Sapienza, head of Barbour Retail North America said. “With these same company values in mind, we thought it important to incorporate this concept into our philanthropic and charitable efforts, providing warmth and comfortability to those in need.”
This year’s coat drive began in mid-November, and Barbour’s Newbury St. location is just one of the 12 retail outlets that collect gently used coats from now until Dec. 31.
“We received great feedback from our local charities that were directly touched by these donations, and we knew we wanted to continue,” Sapienza said in a press release.
This year, the coats collected at the Boston location will be sent to both New Horizons and Haley House—two local, full-service soup kitchens that are dedicated to Boston-area unemployment and homelessness.
“Our stores take pride in choosing local charities to benefit each holiday season,” Sapienza said. “Barbour Boston has chosen to partner with Haley House and New Horizons, as they have been great partners in the past, and the Barbour donations have been helpful in their efforts to assist those in need.”
The Boston location, which opened in Oct. 2005 as the brand’s second retail store in the U.S., is the only outlet that has partnered with multiple charitable organizations. Gently worn and reusable outerwear donated to the local boutique will be divided between the two non-profits, with men’s jackets sent to Haley House and women’s jackets sent to New Horizons.
Haley House, located on Dartmouth Street in the South End, was initially started to create different avenues to help Boston’s population of homeless men, offering a soup kitchen, access to affordable housing, and a clothing distribution center.
Domenick Fazzolari, A&S ’17, volunteers at Haley House every Monday and Wednesday through the PULSE program.
“In addition to the Soup Kitchen shifts that I am involved in, some students volunteer downstairs in the clothing room,” Fazzolari said. “Obviously having jackets and certain articles of clothing will really benefit the soup kitchen guests. I think it really shows how important Haley House is to the city of Boston, that such a high end retailer is willing to work with them to benefit the community.”
The donations collected by Barbour will eventually make their way to this clothing room, where Nicholas Raposo CSON ’18 volunteers on Friday mornings.
“The men are allowed to pick a few items ranging from pants to shoes, but it all depends on what people bring,” Raposo said. “This will definitely help because recently it’s been getting very cold and people donate what they don’t need. Of course, every donation is appreciated, but right now what the guests need are things like coats and socks.”
Each morning, the clothing room at Haley House serves between 60 and 100 guests, but ultimately, not all of them are able to find the articles that are necessary for the cold Boston winter. “It will definitely be nice to say to the guests that might previously not have been able to get what they want that because of this coat drive and because of other people being generous, they will be able to finally have something they really needed,” Raposo said.
Beyond collecting the donated coats, Barbour has also committed to donating one piece of its own retail line for every jacket that is turned in. According to a press release, Barbour hopes to meet a goal of collecting 1,500 coats and jackets in total across its 12 US retail stores. With their promise of internal donations, this will mean 3,000 articles of clothing from Barbour will provide warmth to people in need this holiday season.
The matching program, which was initiated last year, reflects the company’s humble beginnings as a small family business. Created in 1894 in South Shields, England, the Barbour has a long history of community involvement, and now operates in more than 40 countries worldwide.
“The program has grown significantly over the years,” Sapienza said. “We encourage customers and community members to please consider making a donation of a gently worn or used coat to your local Barbour store to help those that are in need.”
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Staff