Harris Tweed

Our new luxury slippers use beautiful Harris tweed fabric for the uppers so we thought we would give you a bit of an insight into Harris tweed and it's origins.

For centuries the islanders of Lewis and Harris have woven cloth by hand calling it Clò Mór in the original Gaelic or 'The big cloth'. Harris Tweed is a cloth handwoven by islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.

Harris Tweed is protected by the Harris Tweed Act 1993, which strictly outlines the conditions in which the cloth can genuinely be made. Authentic Harris Tweed is issued with the Harris Tweed Orb Mark after inspection by the Harris Tweed Authority.

It was Lady Catherine (the wife of the late 6th Earl of Dunmore) who in 1843 noticed the marketing potential and high quality of the tweed cloth produced locally by two sisters from the village of Strond. Known as the Paisley Sisters, after the town where they had trained as weavers, the fabric woven by the girls was of a remarkably higher quality than that produced by untrained crofters.

In 1846 the Countess commissioned the sisters to weave lengths of tweed in the Murray family tartan. She sent the finished fabric to be made up into jackets for the gamekeepers and ghillies on her estate. Being hardwearing and water resistant, the new clothing was highly suited to life on the Dunmore’s estate. Lady Catherine was quick to see that the jackets worn by her staff would be ideal attire for the pursuit of country sports and the outdoor lifestyle that was prevalent amongst her peers.

The Countess took every opportunity to promote the local textile as a fashionable cloth for hunting and sporting wear. It soon became the fabric of choice for the landed gentry and aristocracy of the time, including members of Queen Victoria’s inner circle. From this point on the Harris Tweed industry grew, eventually reaching a peak production figure of 7.6 million yards in 1966.

Matt Cottis
Matt Cottis