Barbarian Brand Lives On

After a few months under bankruptcy protection, Barbarian Rugby Wear - now Barbarian Sports Wear - is happy to welcome a new owner to get them back in business.

2012 NJ Group IV Sec I State Soccer Champs Sporting Barbarian Brand Rugby shirts
2012 NJ Group IV Section I State Soccer Champions sporting their rugby shirts. Photo Courtesy of Studio042 Photography.

Barbarian Brand is back and ready to be worn by the finest athletes.

 Barbarian Rugby Wear has emerged from under bankruptcy protection with a new leader and a new moniker. The Barbarian Brand will now be sold under the name “Barbarian Sports Wear.” The brand has been based in Canada for 32 years and  produces some of the finest authentic rugby apparel available anywhere in the world. The brand is sold across North America and parts of Asia and Europe. However, clients received quite a shock when the company sought bankruptcy protection around August 2013, according to Dissolve. Barbarian’s location in Canada employed 75 members who were laid off after the factory shut down, leaving the thousands of companies who sell Barbarian Brand products out of their supply.

Today, Barbarian Brand plans to emerge from bankruptcy protection under new ownership. Many merchants that sell Barbarian products are thrilled, as many believe they are the only place in North America to get authentic quality rugby gear at such a good price.

The new owner is Steve Wagner, who also has experience as president of Salus Marine Wear of Canada. Salus is a manufacturer of stock and custom personal flotation devices,  PFDs,  sold worldwide to professional and  recreational enthusiasts alike. Wagner is extremely excited to get started with the company, saying how the company is “in his blood.” Wagner has gone from wearing his own Barbarian Brand rugby gear on the field to working for other companies such as Nike.

He says how it is almost like a “homecoming” to now be running the company.

This Barbarian Brand factory closing had an impact on many companies. Right here in Montclair, N.J., Scott Kennedy, CEO of Studio042, is thrilled that Barbarian Brand is back up and running.

Montclair Mounties sporting Barbarian Brand
2012 NJ Group IV Section I State Soccer Champions sporting their rugby shirts. Photo Courtesy of Studio042 Photography.

“Our local Montclair High School is home to the NJ State Soccer Champions and were outfitted with the Classic Barbarian Rugby Hoodies in their team colors and emblazoned with their achievements in 2012,” explained Kennedy. “I am very happy the Barbarian team is back up and running.”

Kennedy added, “Steve is an accomplished entrepreneur who knows what he’ll need to do to make this opportunity work for everyone. We all are fortunate he stepped forward and kept the brand, its products and facilities from the auctioneer’s block.  There are literally thousands of merchants and tens of thousands of consumers who are sleeping well tonight, secure in the knowledge that Steve is at the helm and the products will be available soon. Barbarian is one of our favorite vendors because of their customer service, attention to detail and the quality of their products –  all traits that mirror our own.”

According to Kennedy, his Spirit and Pride website,, carried the Barbarian Brand Sports Wear shirts and hoodies because they were always big sellers. “I was disappointed when we had to temporarily remove the items from our site,” said Kennedy, “but I was optimistic the folks up in Canada would sort it out. I predicted a November return to market.”

Although the company officially opened yesterday, there is still work to be done. Barbarian Brand Sports Wear began answering the phone on Monday, Oct. 21, and the machines are being turned on after their 12-week hiatus on Tuesday, Oct. 22. According to Wagner, the company used to have a schedule set up where customers would receive their custom orders within four weeks. However, since the company currently has so many orders pending, it may take some time to become up-to-date.

“Our objective is to get as many orders out the door as we can,” said Wagner. “We are up and running, but it will be a while until we are totally up to speed and can get custom orders out the door.”

Soon, merchants across the globe will be able to submit their orders again. “As soon as they are ready I’ll order 90 shirts and hoodies to restock our product line and re-activate those items on our spirit site,” Kennedy said. “I am sure Steve and his new venture can use the cash and our clients are clamoring for the products.”

There were many steps Wagner had to take to get Barbarian Sports Wear up and running. According to Wagner, when the company originally went under foreclosure months ago, people were allowed to bid on various pieces of the company: equipment, inventory, their brand and more. “It was our opinion that the whole was worth more than the sum of the parts,” said Wagner. So, Wagner decided to purchase the entire Barbarian company, instead of bits and pieces of it.

As of today, Wagner plans to bring 40 out of the 75 workers back, with intention to bring all workers back soon – and then some.

Wagner also has future plans for the company. The first six to 12 months will be a lot of the same material. “We’re going to get back on solid footing and after that we’re going to look into expanding and changing the line,” said Wagner. In the past, Barbarian has changed  20 percent of their line every year in terms of different colors and styles. Barbarian plans to continue their custom orders, but will change their stock items over time, planning to eventually release a new catalog.

Although this situation has been long and there is still a lot of work to do, Wagner is still happy with how things are going. “The company has been running since 1981,” said Wagner. “With this closure, it gave us the opportunity to trim some fat and tighten our belts. We have to make sure more money is coming in the front door than going out the back. We’re trying to run a marathon and we’re 50 pounds overweight. Getting rid of that 50 pounds will let us run that marathon in good time.”

Workers are excited to get back to business as well. Holly Wagenknecht, customer service representative for Barbarian Brand for the past two and a half years, is looking forward to working with Wagner. “Steve has a lot of drive to get things back to normal and it’s been really exciting,” said Wagenknecht. “It’s a bit overwhelimg to get back to normal. There’s lot of half-made orders and things we need to get out there, but it’s something we can definitely do.”

It may be a slow process at first, but Barbarian Brand Sports Wear is definitely ready to get back to work.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login