The three main tenets of Harris Tweed are that it is (a) made from pure virgin wool, (b) hand-woven at the home of the weaver, and (c) the process takes place entirely in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It is these elements, underpinned by a unique Act of Parliament, which gives Harris Tweed its unique, enduring qualities.
But there is much more that sets Harris Tweed Hebrides apart. It’s also a crucial characteristic that we dye the wool, not the yarn. This adds great time and complexity to the process but the resulting difference gives the Clo Mor - Big Cloth - a depth of colour so strong and vibrant that it has a three dimensional effect. Put it another way - we don’t spray paint our sheep, we softly bathe them in colour.
Each individual micron of wool is completely saturated in colour inspired from the natural environment of the Hebridean Islands. Where this once was done using seaweed, lichen, animal fat and urine it is now done with standard dyes but applied by skilled artisans using traditional recipes.
Our skilled workforce do not engage with Computer Aided Design (CAD) preferring to set our own ‘gold standard’ of influential colour. Our YC140 (pictured) premiered by Topman at London Fashion Week Feb 2011 launched the trend for rust and the increased use of our brighter colours at Pitti Uomo should see an increased influence of our yarns across the fashion spectrum.
On her visits to the Islands Vivienne Westwood used to complain if the sun was shining. Why? Because for her the tweed shone. Westwood loves the bright tartans and plaids just as much as the earthy tweeds because the yarns all embody a different character. Take a look at your own tweeds under strong light or magnification and a complex palette will manifest itself. From the land comes the colour; from the land comes the cloth.