As London Fashion Week kicks off in the capital, Harris Tweed took centre stage on Monday celebrating the UK’s love affair with the luxury hand-woven fabric. Harris Tweed boasted production of 1.7 million metres last year alone and has reported a steady growth in popularity over the last seven years. Harris Tweed was showcased at Dover House in Whitehall with work from Nigel Cabourn, Art Comes First and Walker Slater as well as two ensembles straight from Margaret Howell’s London Fashion Week collection. Harris Tweed is no longer reserved solely for the ‘hunting, shooting, fishing set and is now being used by the world’s leading fashion houses for their A/W collections as well as high-street stores such as John Lewis and for interior styling, recognising the quality that comes with the ‘Made in Britain’ tag. For anyone who loves hand crafted quality, there really is no better cloth than a traditional Harris Tweed.
As British designer Margaret Howell who showed at London Fashion Week on Sunday and has a long affiliation with Harris Tweed said: “A lover of wild open spaces, I feel an empathy with Harris Tweed. Weaving on hand looms creates a depth and complexity of texture that can’t be imitated by a mechanical process. The resilient wool, the designs in earthy colours – reflect the landscape, the climate and the skills of the local people who produce it. “I’ve always been attracted by its authenticity, and chose Harris Tweed when designing my first winter jacket and overcoat. I’ve used it ever since.” The revived affection for Harris Tweed in the UK is a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the weavers, the work of the mills and Harris Tweed Authority who work diligently to promote and protect this iconic industry which is protected by an Act of Parliament and more recently a Grant of Arms.
Harris Tweed Authority chairman, Norman L Macdonald said: “The UK market really understands the quality and unique characteristics of Harris Tweed. We are so proud to see the cloth which is hand-woven at the homes of just 175 weavers on the islands of Lewis and Harris transformed in to stunning collections which are shown on catwalks of the world’s fashion capitals.”
With the industry now estimated to be worth nearly £11 million, it plays a significant role – not only for employment on the Hebridean islands but also the industry’s contribution to both Scotland and UK economies. Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said: “I am delighted to host the Harris Tweed fashion show at the Scotland Office. Harris Tweed is a beautiful product – close to its heritage and geographic roots, yet setting trends right across the world.