The Glory of Harris Tweed

Harris Tweed. To some people it may seem old fashioned and country styled, they are not witnessing the true glory of Harris Tweed however. With the right cut and bold tweeds on display it can be transformed into a stunning outfit for people of all ages!

From beautiful Harris Tweed bags, purses, wallets, gloves and hip flasks to the classic and elegant jackets for men and women there is a Harris Tweed product for just about everyone! Whether you wish to look like an elegant British gentleman or prefer to stand out from the crowd with a brightly coloured, good quality handbag - the glory of Harris Tweed is clear to see!

Harris Tweed was first created by crofters so that farmers could battle the cold and damp weather. It was a rough, thick, sturdy felted material that was normally in muted and earthy tones – a true working man's cloth. A hand woven fabric made in the outer Hebrides of Scotland, it emerged from the 18th century and was originally known as 'Clò-Mòr’.

The most recognised tale regarding the origin of the name "Harris Tweed" comes from the Countess of Dunmore. The Countess, whose family were the proprietors of North Harris Tweed, helped bring the cloth into the eye of the general public. If not for philanthropists like the Countess, Harris Tweed would most likely never have became as popular as it is today and perhaps would have never left the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. This interest in Harris Tweed first began in 1840 whilst work to to help the cottage industry spanned both prior and after the 19th century. These workers were not in it for personal profit, it was an industry built solely for the glory of Harris Tweed!

During the 19th century imitation Harris Tweed products suddenly began appearing in the British market, some European countries and even Japan. Due to these poor imitations the Harris Tweed Association was set up in 1906 to trademark the original authentic product and to help support the loyal crofters who had worked so hard. The association came up with the following description. “Harris Tweed means a tweed, hand-spun, hand-woven and dyed by the crofters and cottars in the Outer Hebrides." This definition became official in 1910 although in 1934 the definition was changed to - “Harris Tweed means a tweed made from pure virgin wool produced in Scotland, spun, dyed and finished in the Outer Hebrides and hand-woven by the islanders at their own homes in the Islands of Lewis, Harris, Uist, Barra and their several appurtenances all known as the Outer Hebrides”. This subtle change meant less competition from rival mainland mills. The Harris Tweed Association then changed it's name to the Harris Tweed Authority which is an independent statutory public body created by the 1993 Harris Tweed Act. The Harris Tweed Authority is responsible for the safeguarding of standards and reputation and also promoting the awareness of the cloth internationally. They are also responsible for checking every Harris Tweed product to make sure the quality holds up to parliament designated standards.

All authentic Harris Tweed products are inspected by a member of the Harris tweed Authority and not an employee, before the product is given a Harris Tweed Orb trademark label a visual indication of the glory of Harris Tweed.

Now that you know a bit more about the glory and history of Harris Tweed feel free to browse our website - or visit our store at 93-95 South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1HN to find your perfect Harris Tweed match!