Heritage Fashion: How It Has Stood The Test Of Time

by James P. Outreach & PR Executive

It is interesting to explore tweed's history and to see how it has become one of the most iconic fabrics in fashion. Originating as a protective and warm fabric, it has transformed into a sophisticated material.

Tweed has become a classic and symbolic Scottish material that is famously known around the world. It has a longstanding, romantic history, dating back to the 18th century. The term tweed was coined accidentally in 1826 due to a misread label on a shipment from weaver William Watson and Sons that read ‘tweel’, the Scottish word for twill, coincidentally appropriate as the fabric was worn by gentlemen shooting or fishing near the river Tweed.



Humble origins

Originally, tweed was crafted from the land for practical peasant wear for outdoor work such as farming on remote islands which were faced with harsh and volatile weather. Naturally, wool repels water, with its thick and coarse texture it is particularly durable and insulative. It emerged as a cottage industry in Hawick that used wool from local sheep and the reliable supply of water from the local river Teviot. As it is produced from natural wool, each tweed garment is unique — by choosing different breeds of sheep, garment makers can plan a design and pattern that will emerge naturally. Not only appreciated for their protective characteristics, but the skilled blending of earthy colours from the natural surroundings. And from there, bunch-dyeing off set the iconic tweed patterns that we know today.


How tweed became famous

In the first part of the 19th century, money was becoming an issue for many Scottish Highland lords whose properties interested the likes of many English noblemen and aristocrats. As the market to rent or buy Scottish country estates grew, so did the camouflage fashion for hunting, shooting, and fishing activities.


In 1848, Prince Albert purchased Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire. As it would’ve been considered offensive for an English noble to wear the tartan of an existing clan, Prince Albert commissioned the production of his own Balmoral tartan in grey and granite tones with hints of blue and red in commiseration of Highland tradition and woven as tweed. 


And so, the first Estate Tweed was born, used to identify and feed people who lived and worked in the same estate. Subsequently, it became custom for other estate owners to commission their own design of tweeds, which echoed across other wealthy and noble members of society, becoming fashionable garb for the upper and middle classes. Tweed was also worn by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay on the first ascent of Mount Everest, a testament to how well the material isolates against harsh cold weather.


Modern day tweed

Today, tweed more closely represents royalty than its ancestral roots, establishing an enduring place in the international fashion industry. Now, a broad selection of sophisticated tweed pieces are sold around the world such as tweed waistcoats. Notably, Coco Chanel’s couture jacket produced from Linton Tweed, which has become a timeless classic decades later from its introduction in 1954, one of the most desired pieces of clothing that is reinvented each year.


There are different varieties of tweed, including Harris Tweed, a complex design where the weaver has to tie in more than 1400 individual threads by hand. Harris Tweed is underpinned by the Harris Tweed Act 1993 — to be the genuine article of clothing, the fabled fabric must be made from pure virgin wool, handwoven at the home of the weaver in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, and then returned to the mill where it is authenticated by a stamper with the Orb trademark to protect the integrity of the product.  The Harris Tweed Orb is the oldest British trademark in use, dating back for more than a century. 

Fortunately, wool is one of the most sustainable textile fibres and has little damage on the environment as well as being biodegradable. In the current days need of seeking sustainable fashion, tweed is known as an environmentally friendly fabric and is subsequently expected to pass the test of time.


This industry, without a doubt, has a long and impressive history. From royalty propelling tweed into luxury fashion, all the way to more sustainable and environmentally conscious customers.




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About James P. Freshman   Outreach & PR Executive

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Joined APSense since, September 17th, 2019, From Newcastle, United Kingdom.

Created on Jan 18th 2021 11:16. Viewed 361 times.


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