During the Industrial revolution, Yorkshire
and Scotland both became big centres for woollen goods manufacture. In
the 1950s Britain was the largest exporter of wool textiles in the world and
after the Second World War woollen good were used to help the UK export
economy recover even though UK residents were deprived of the very same
goods, until clothes rationing was
Even though the UK textiles manufacturing
sector has contracted over the years, in 2004 what remains is an important
part of the UK industry. Cloth produced by mills in Yorkshire and
Scotland is sought after globally by discriminating designers and
purchasers. However, the market is smaller as third world companies
compete. Because traditional methods are used to produce many of the
tweeds and tartans from the UK the technique produces a fabric that is
unrivalled in quality in terms of texture and handle.
The last couple of decades has also seen the
introduction of lighter weight woollen materials more suited to the modern
world. When I think of quality British tweeds I think of Harris Tweed,
Linton Tweeds and Bernat Klein Tweeds. The 3 names offer different
textural qualities in tweeds that captures the word exactly.
Harris Tweed is perfect for the new
equestrian fashions for autumn/ winter 2004/5. No other material looks
as good made up as a traditional tailored riding or hacking jacket.
There are many producers of cloth in the, UK
but the most world famous woollen cloth of all is probably the Harris Tweed.
Harris tweed is made in Britain and British tweed is the finest in the
world. To be precise Harris tweed can only be woven in the outer
Islands off Western Scotland in the Hebrides.
In the early Victorian era in the 1840s the
wife of the Laird of Harris, Lady Dunmore encouraged the local weaving
economy to promote the sales and production of Harris tweed.
Usually the wool comes from mainland Scotland
and is transported to the islands where it is cleaned and dyed. After
it is carded and blended it is warped onto wooden frames which are sent out
to individual crofters with enough yarn to fill in for the weft (woof).
They weave the material according to precise Harris pattern requirements on
their time-honoured Hattersley looms.
Every weaver involved has to sign the British
Harris Tweed Authority agreement that they wove the yarn by hand. The
isle of Lewis deals with finishing the cloth which includes cleaning it of
the oils that kept it from splitting during weaving and then milling and
cropping it, until it has the desired handle for tailoring use. The finished
tweed is stamped with a certification mark to ensure it is recognised
as true Harris Tweed.
The famous Harris Tweed logo and typical Harris Tweed fabrics.
Note the lovely soft earthy colours and muted blues.
Under the legal definition by a 1993 Act of Parliament the
goods must be ' hand-woven by the islanders at their homes in the
Outer Hebrides, finished in the islands of Harris, Lewis, Benbecula, Uist
and Barra and their several purtenances and made from pure virgin wool dyed
and spun in the Outer Hebrides '.
The Harris tweed industry has taken action against competing
markets and moved into the 21st century producing a new lighter
weight fabric at 9oz a square metre compared to traditional weights of just
over 16oz per square metre.
This is the guarantee of a genuine Harris tweed product that
will have years of wear in it.
I recently received this press report about Harris Tweed and
which may interest some of our readers.
HARRIS TWEED HEBRIDES HITS RUSSIAN MARKET - 11 March 2010
Harris Tweed Hebrides, based at Shawbost on the Isle of
Lewis, has been included in a high-powered campaign to attract Russia’s big
spenders to top-end British consumer products.
The award-winning company, which accounted for 95 per cent
of Harris Tweed production last year, will participate in next week’s
ground-breaking event in Moscow, promoted by UKTI, the government’s trade
and investment organisation. UK Showcase will feature 20 of of Britain’s
leading producers of luxury goods.
HTH chairman and former UK Trade Minister, Brian Wilson,
will take part in a press conference at the British Embassy in Moscow next
Tuesday to launch the event.
Mr Wilson said: “It is great for Harris Tweed Hebrides to be
acknowledged as one of Britain’s leading luxury brands. We are in superb
company in Moscow and it is a golden opportunity to carve out a niche in the
Russia ticks all the boxes for Harris Tweed. The climate is right for it as
a fashion fabric. There is a respect for quality and heritage. And there are
a lot of people who now have money to spend”.
Other famous Scottish names invited to participate are
Holland and Sherry, Johnston of Elgin, and coat-makers, Mackintosh.
Companies from elsewhere in the UK include Linley, the furniture design
house, Dovecot Tapestries, royal glove-makers Cornelia James, and Colefax
and Fowler, the wallpaper brand.
The editor of Moscow’s leading luxury goods magazine, Robb’s
Report, has already visited the Shawbost mill and was hugely impressed by
what he saw. Mark Hogarth, creative director of HTH, said: “The article will
appear after the Moscow event and will be an ideal follow-on to the interest
we expect to stimulate. There is a huge potential market for both the tweed
itself and also for the products made from it.
“The exposure that we have had over the past few weeks in
London, New York and Paris, with several leading designers using Harris
Tweed from Shawbost, will also help to set the scene”.
Ron Archibald, head of UKTI Tradeshows, said: “From London
to the Isle of Lewis, the UK is renowned for companies producing world class
consumer goods. Many Russian consumers are now looking beyond the obvious
labels and we are sure that the companies will find a ready audience in this
discerning luxury market”.
Meanwhile, Ian Angus Mackenzie, chief executive of the
company, said that orders this year are “well ahead of the same time last
year” with increased demand from the United States, where Harris Tweed
Hebrides have been making a marketing push, as well as big orders from
Germany and Japan. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON HARRIS TWEED PLEASE PHONE
BRIAN WILSON 0N 01851-672274 or IAN ANGUS MACKENZIE ON 01851-702862.
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