Sam Heughan, 38, plays Jamie Fraser in the hit TV series Outlander, adapted from the Diana Gabaldon books. Living in Glasgow while shooting season four, he was born in Galloway where John Barbour, who founded the family-owned brand in 1894, originated.
As Barbour’s Global Brand Ambassador for the past two years, Heughan promotes and models for the tartan-lined brand as well as working on his own Signature collection.
What is your connection with Barbour?
Since July 2016, I have been Barbour’s Global Brand Ambassador, a role I am very proud and privileged to hold. I was born and raised near where John Barbour lived in the south of Scotland and have always had a strong love of the brand.
How do you go about working with them?
I have a Barbour Sam Heughan Signature collection which reflects my personal style, drawing on my love of the outdoors, Scotland and the heritage of the brand. As their Global Brand Ambassador, I take part in photoshoots, modelling for two of their worldwide campaigns, Shirt Department and Tartan, and have undertaken store appearances, primarily in the US.
Do you have a background in design or a love of fashion?
This is a new adventure for me and I’ve loved learning and collaborating with the design team at Barbour, adding my personal details or preference. It’s a fun collaboration and can be very rewarding when you see the end product.
How would you describe your style?
Something versatile is what I look for, that’ll look good in the mountains of Scotland or on the streets of New York. Practical, fashionable and good quality.
Who are your influences style-wise? Style icons?
I like to draw on past designs in the Barbour archive; it’s fascinating to see how contemporary a heritage piece can be.
Did you wear Barbour designs before you worked with them?
Being Scottish, I grew up with the brand and have always been a big fan. Their clothing is perfect for the outdoors. I have always had a great passion for the company – the fact that it is still family owned and continues to make its traditional wax jackets in South Shields in the Northeast of England makes it pretty special.
What appeals to you about them?
The company has a long history and heritage (since 1894) and their archive goes right back to 1910. They have endured many periods of momentous history and it’s so intriguing to see how Barbour has adapted yet retained its strong identity. It has also been fascinating to see that while the design and styles of the clothing have changed over the years, the founding philosophy of providing quality products that are fit for purpose, durable and functional is still as relevant today as it was in the beginning.
Did you try to put an element of Outlander/Jamie Fraser into the designs at all?
My Barbour Sam Heughan collection reflects my Scottish roots and my love for the great British outdoors and we’ve included tartan and herringbone, giving iconic and familiar textures. It’s subtle but uniquely Scottish.
Talk us through your recent Oscars look, the suit, Montblanc watch (and did you get to keep it?)
Ha, ha I was rather fortunate to be gifted the watch, it’s beautiful! The suit and shoes were Saint Laurent, very sharp.
What would you favour for a more casual look?
Need you ask?!
What’s the one item of clothing you would never throw away?
I have trouble throwing away boots. The more battered they look, the more character they get.
What can you tell us about the costumes on Outlander?
They’re an important and useful tool to tell the story of the character and period, it can really change how one walks, stands etc and give clues to the character’s past and status. It’s fun to build the story in our fittings.
What challenges have you faced in the link with Barbour?
Apart from the glorious Scottish weather, my biggest challenge has been time. Juggling my acting commitments, my charity work and working with Barbour has sometimes been challenging but we always manage to make it work.
What was the biggest surprise along the way?
The biggest surprise was when I met Dame Margaret Barbour and her daughter Helen and in conversation we discovered that I was born in the same rural area in the south of Scotland as founder John Barbour. It felt like an omen.
What is the fun part of it?
The fun part has been working with the Barbour team – they’re all so passionate and knowledgeable about the brand and they have made me feel very much part of the company.
What have you learned?
I’ve learned a lot more about the history and heritage of Barbour and how the design team use inspiration from the archives to create garments relevant for today. It was fascinating to go through the archives and to incorporate some of this history and heritage into my collection.
What is your favourite item from the Barbour collection?
I love all of the collection. If I had to pick out one piece from the current Spring Summer 18 collection, it would be the Barbour Lochy waterproof, breathable jacket. I love its casual style which goes so well with jeans. It’s very lightweight – perfect for the summer months in Scotland where the weather, as we know, can be unpredictable!
What has been your biggest fashion faux-pas?
Oh, I was born in the 1980s… too many to mention.
Are you a true Scotsman or is it too cold for going commando when filming in a kilt in Scotland?
Sigh. Do you wear underwear?
Why is tartan so popular?
It tells a story of heritage. It’s interesting to see the original colours before it was made fashionable by Queen Victoria. It was less uniform and more reflective of local materials and resources.
Do you wear tartan when you’re not at work?
Weddings, parties, sports events and of course any time I wear my Barbour.
Does the tartan and the kilts make the show more popular?
Absolutely. I think the show celebrates Scottish culture and tradition. I’m a proud Scotsman and honoured to bring the best of this to the world.