Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Harris Tweed

2011 is the 100th anniversary of the Harris Tweed trademark. Although we've all heard of it, and may even own some clothing made from Harris Tweed, I for one did not fully appreciate how specific the requirements are for cloth to bear the brand. Remarkably, it must be handwoven on the island in the weaver's own home.

There's plenty of debate around how much we overstate the importance of local manufacture. People have a tendency to assume that it guarantees a level of quality that clothes made abroad cannot possibly hope to reach. That's not true at all, of course. Nevertheless, while a cynic might suggest that demanding that cloth be made in the weaver's own home has more to do with protecting history and employment than it does with ensuring quality, it can't be denied that the strict controls placed upon materials such as Harris Tweed does ensure a level of quality that cannot necessarily be easily found elsewhere. Perhaps equally important, there is a pleasure in wearing clothes into which so much expertise and care has gone, that has nothing to do with its relative quality.

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