We love Harris Tweed because it’s hand-made by craftsmen from pure new wool with a long heritage. The ethos of this proudly British fabric perfectly mirrors all the key attributes of LoveMyDog collections. We have three Harris Tweed collection including our signature ‘Hoxton Tartan’, so we thought you may like to know more about this world-famous, hand-woven cloth.
WHAT IS HARRIS TWEED?
Known as ‘The Champagne of Fabrics’ this soft, warm cloth is the only one in the world that has its own Act of Parliament. It is made by hand from pure virgin wool that has been dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. Only four islands produce this Harris Tweed; Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra.
THE ORB TRADEMARK
Harris Tweed is protected by an act of parliament (The Harris Tweed Act of 1993). The Orb symbol guarantees that the cloth is genuine Harris Tweed, hand-woven in the homes of the islanders.
HISTORY OF HARRIS TWEED
For centuries the islanders of the Outer Hebrides have woven wool by hand, originally known as ‘Clo Mhor’ – gaelic for ‘The Big Cloth’. Lewis and Harris in particular had a reputation for excellence, but up until the nineteenth century, it was made by individual families for their own use.
The North Harris estate was owned by the Earl of Dunsmore. In 1846, Lady Dunsmore noticed the fabrics that her tenants were producing in their homes and she asked them to copy the Murray tartan in tweed. Her friends liked the new fabric so much that they wanted to wear it, for hunting and sportingwear and word spread. It proved so successful that Lady Dunsmore decided to work with the weavers to improve the process of production and turn the cottage industry into a commercial venture.
In 1903, Harris Tweed was given a further boost when a local joiner started making a new type of loom, which allowed the tweed to be hand-woven much faster. The industry started to expand rapidly and two new mills were opened In 1906 Harris Tweed was trade marked to help protect it from competition of the spinning mills where fabric was mass-produced rather than made by hand. It meant that all tweed was inspected, and if approved, given a certifying stamp – the orb that is still in use today.
Originally a utilitarian country fabric, it has gone on to be worn by celebrities and royalty all over the world. It’s naturally waterproof and warm, being woven from native sheep whose fleeces are designed to keep out the cold of the bitter Scottish winters. It also feels wonderfully soft and lasts for years. Our dog collars and leads in Harris tweed always outlast our leather ones – and they feel nicer too.
HARRIS TWEED TODAY
New types of hand-weaving looms have led to lighter wool tweeds and more complex patterns, but the underlying philosophy is the same. All genuine Harris Tweed is still woven by hand in the islander’s homes. It has a softness and richness of colour and texture that is impossible to beat.
Harris Tweed is no longer simply made into jackets – the classic ‘English Country Gentleman’ look. Over 100 yarns are spun by the islanders, which can be made up into thousands of patterns. Three weights are available, a medium weight which is suitable for furnishings, a featherweight which is popular for jackets and outerwear and a superfine which is ideal for dresses and shawls.
HARRIS TWEED AND LOVE MY DOG
Creative Director Lilly Shahravesh originally trained as a textile designer, which is why the quality of all LoveMyDog fabrics are so exceptional. Lilly says, “I can tell as soon as I feel a piece of cloth if it’s right for us. Sometimes a fabric looks good but as soon as I touch it I just think ‘oh no’.”
Lilly doesn’t just design the products, she has also designed a brand new Harris Tweed pattern, which is exclusive to LoveMyDog. Designed in 2010, Lilly visited the Outer Hebrides and worked closely with the islanders to develop the red check that has been named ‘Hoxton Tartan’.
HARRIS TWEED DOGWEAR COLLECTIONS
There are currently three Harris Tweed collections by LoveMyDog. Hoxton Tartan is our funky, edgy London style, in a traditional red tartan. Pixley is an adorable range in pink herringbone Harris Tweed for girl dogs, while Appleby is the matching range in smart lime and green Harris Tweed for boy dogs.
As keen supporters of UK craftsmanship and heritage companies, we will continue to use this wonderful hand-made fabric, so you can look out for more Harris Tweed collections to come.