In the far-flung islands of Scotland lies the home of the timeless ‘Harris Tweed’ brand. The world-famous cloth is carefully crafted by local artisans who inhabit the wondrous islands of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. Over several generations the ‘Harris Tweed’ brand has established itself as a global phenomena, something which has been achieved using consistent and systematic branding along with maintaining a reputation for the continuous production of the highest quality cloth. The brand is now the world’s oldest continually used trademark, with each uniquely curated piece of Clo Mor (Gaelic for big cloth) marked with the globally recognised Harris Tweed Orb.
Mark Hogarth, the Creative Director of ‘Harris Tweed’, speaks exclusively to HausMag about the charming heritage brand which remains loyally based on the magnificent archipelago that is the Outer Hebrides, just off the west coast of Scotland.
So established is the brand of ‘Harris Tweed’, that it is protected by a government statute granted by the powers of Parliament in 1993. The Harris Tweed Authority, which is the legal guardian of the brand and its Orb trademark, protects the complex production processes in place on behalf of the islanders of the Outer Hebrides. This Act of Parliament further consolidated the ‘Harris Tweed’ brand, making it the first, and only, cloth in the world with a protected provenance. The efforts to safeguard the brand ‘Harris Tweed’ began in the early 20th Century, when imitations of the cloth began to appear on the market. Through efforts to uphold the value and authenticity of this brand, ‘Harris Tweed’ has preserved its name and assured its presence on the global stage. “Our tradition is authentic and therefore at the core of our brand appeal,” says Hogarth, “we continue to make a fabric that has a unique story born of a landscape and culture that adds soul and character to the finish of the fabric.”
Part of the charm of the heritage brand is its classic, enduring style and character. “We don’t want ‘Harris Tweed’ to be in fashion or indeed out of fashion” says the Creative Director. “Trends and fashions will change, so we try to supersede them by offering a range of styles and patterns.”
There are many elements that make a ‘Harris Tweed’ garment special. For example, the depth of colour is achieved through dyeing wool rather than yarn. The tweed is spun from 100% pure Scottish wool which is dyed and spun with the colours found naturally in the outstanding surrounds of the Outer Hebrides. “The luxury is in the process,” says Hogarth. “As long as designers and indeed society at large continues to appreciate our story, we will continue to sustain a successful heritage industry in a remote and beautiful part of the world; the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.”
The global presence of ‘Harris Tweed’ is monumental. It is exported to more than 50 countries worldwide, spreading the warmth and beauty of the Outer Hebrides to every corner of the planet. The cloth can be found in a variety of forms, from enchanting home furnishings to cutting-edge couture. The designs are invariably beautiful and are products which are made to stand the tests of time. By the middle of the 20th Century, the Clo Mor had achieved esteemed status around the world. The textile had risen to prominence and secured its place as a timeless, classic brand, being a firm favourite among royals, Hollywood icons and many a discerning customer across the globe.
The Harris Tweed Act of 1993 clearly defines Harris Tweed as follows:
“Handwoven by the islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.” – Harris Tweed Act of 1993.
With special thanks to Mark Hogarth for his insightful words and artistic inspiration, and press information.
For enquiries, please visit harristweedhebrides.com
Written by Anneka Shally
Edited by Christina Wright