Neil Barrett was born in Devon, South East England. Both his grandfather and great-grandfather were master tailors. Barrett studied at both Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art in London. Immediately after his graduation, Neil was recruited to work with Florence-based Gucci, where he was appointed Senior Men's designer.
After five years of work with Gucci, Neil was approached by Patrizio Bertelli of Prada , where he was instrumental in establishing the Prada menswear line. Barrett's work under the Prada label also established a blueprint of minimal menswear that combines luxurious fabrics and Italian craftsmanship with high-tech sportswear. This approach to the masculine wardrobe also formed the foundation of the Neil Barrett label, which began in 1999.
Neil Barrett's eponymous label opened his first flagship store in Tokyo, Japan, within a year of starting his own-name business. In 2002, Neil Barrett staged his debut catwalk show as part of Milan menswear fashion week. In addition to his own label, Neil Barrett has collaborated with Puma on a collection of sports shoes. In 2003, he was named creative director for a series of Puma technical collections, starting with Italy’s National Football Team, for whom he created both training and formal wear exclusively. In 2006, Neil Barrett expanded into womenswear.
In 2009, Neil Barrett invested in its production division, based in Italy. Production, distribution, and delivery of the brand are based in Tuscany, near Florence, with 85% of the collection made in Italy. Moreover, the decision to reinvest in the company also coincided with continued belief in focusing on fabrics suppliers, new technologies, and artisan producers in Italy.
In 2011, to strengthen distribution, a Neil Barrett boutique opened in Landmark building, Hong Kong. Four boutiques and one monobrand store opened between Autumn 2011 and Spring 2012 in South Korea; architect Zaha Hadid has designed all of the Neil Barrett shops.
Barrett has provided wardrobe elements for movie productions including Spiderman 2 and Spiderman 3, I-Robot, and Ghostrider. His shirts were used by Justin Timberlake for his The 20/20 Experience World Tour and the music video for Take Back The Night.