About Harris Tweed
Heritage & Information
Our Island Home
"Our land, our people, our home"
The long, barren archipelago on the far north west tip of Europe is home to every dyer, blender, carder, spinner, warper, weaver, finisher and inspector of Harris Tweed. No part of the process takes place elsewhere.
As such, the land and people are woven into the very fabric of the cloth, reflecting as it does the colours of the landscapes, the beauty of our vistas and the values of our people.
To the north of the remote string of islands lies Lewis, a rugged and bleakly beautiful land of heather and moor, loch and stream and home to the three main mills and the main harbour town of Stornoway. Lewis is connected by a narrow isthmus of land to Harris in the south. More mountainous than its northern brother, Harris has some of the world’s finest beaches of golden fine shell sand, shallow azure blue seas and a myriad of hidden crofts and villages.
South of this main body a string of smaller islands tails off to the south, the machair meadows and loch-laden isles of the Uists and beautiful Barra at the furthest tip.
For hundreds of years these islands have produced a special tweed…Harris Tweed.
“Woven with love and care”
The rare character and beauty of Harris Tweed is attributable to the fact that it is the only fabric produced in commercial quantities by truly traditional methods anywhere in the world. Hundreds of distinctive patterns developed over the centuries, each unique but unmistakably Harris Tweed with its characteristic subtle designs in complex natural shades.
Unusually our wool is dyed before being spun, allowing us to blend a multitude of colours into our yarn. With each thread containing a myriad of different colours, a cloth of great depth and complexity is produced. Just look closely to reveal the true nature of your Harris Tweed.
There are also an extensive catalogue of designs to delve into from an array of Plain Twills and traditional Herringbone to more complex Plaids and all combinations thereof.
Harris Tweed is also adventurous enough to be woven into contemporary and unconventional patterns and the Harris Tweed Producers continue to explore possibilities with clients with each new season.
Soft, tactile, breathable, warm, colourful, sustainable, adaptable…the old image of coarse, scratchy, dour tweed simply does not exist these days. While still retaining its heritage of practicality and longevity, the Harris Tweed of today extols all the qualities and virtues of a truly luxury 21st century fabric.
Guardians of the Orb
“Protecting our legacy”
The passing of an Act of Parliament in 1993 brought into being the Harris Tweed Authority, a new statutory body replacing the original Harris Tweed Association set up in 1909. The fundamental role of the organisation was to undertake responsibility for promoting and maintaining the authenticity, standard and reputation of the world famous Harris Tweed cloth.
The Authority oversees the production and inspection of the cloth from start to finish and only when satisfied that the article is genuinely deserving of our historic Orb will we brand the cloth with the mark.
The mark of the Orb, pressed onto every length of cloth and seen on the traditional label affixed to finished items, guarantees the highest quality tweed, dyed, spun and handwoven by islanders of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland in their homes to the laws outlined in the Harris Tweed Act of Parliament.
The Harris Tweed Act
The definition of Harris Tweed contained in the Harris Tweed Act of 1993 clearly defines Harris Tweed as follows:
“Handwoven by the islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.”
The Act ensures that all cloth certified with the Harris Tweed Orb symbol complies with this definition and is genuine Harris Tweed, the world’s only commercially produced handwoven tweed.
The legislation and organisation allows the safeguarding of the Harris Tweed name, quality and reputation of Harris Tweed ensuring that every metre of the world famous cloth conforms to the same exacting standards and gives legal powers to address imitation and counterfeiting of the cloth worldwide.
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