Harris Tweed: Unique Among Tweeds

A classic Scottish fabric reinterpreted in our fall and winter collections

Handwoven for generations in a remote cluster of islands in northwest Scotland, Harris tweed is a tweed unlike any other. Clò Mór (translated from the Scottish Gaelic as “the big cloth”) was born of practicality and has risen through the ranks of distinction and fashion, reaching heirloom status in many a sophisticated wardrobe. In 1909, Brooks Brothers became the first clothing company in the United States to sell this remarkable tweed, and it remains an indelible part of the brand to this day. 

The fabric is experiencing such a resurgence in popularity that production facilities are at capacity. Only three active mills and approximately 140 weavers remain in the Outer Hebrides islands, the only place where Harris tweed is made. The Harris Tweed Act of 1993 firmly defined the fabric, specifying that it must be made from pure virgin wool that is dyed and spun on the islands and handwoven in the home of a weaver. To testify to its authenticity, all finished fabric is inspected and receives a serial number and Orb trademark, which speaks to the exclusive nature of the cloth. The Harris Tweed Authority describes it as “the only fabric produced in commercial quantities by truly traditional methods anywhere in the world.”

This season, in addition to sport coats, our Harris tweed offerings include walking coats, hats, belts and suspenders. The tweed’s traditional outerwear roots and Black Watch tartan (read more) are referenced strongly.

“It’s almost alchemy.”

Look closely and you can see a vast array of colors in what might appear to be a single shade from afar. This lends a depth of surprising aesthetic subtlety to the cloth. “That vibrancy is not available in other tweeds,” says Stewart Roxburgh, Senior Executive at Scottish Enterprise. “You wouldn’t realize how much effort goes into blending 30 or 40 shades to get the right color. It’s almost alchemy.” The result: an artisanal fabric with international appeal.