Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What exactly is Harris Tweed?

Harris Tweed forces Zara to stop misusing its name
March 19, 2012 By MR

Harris Tweed has forced Zara’s online trading arm to stop describing a product as a “Harris Tweed Blazer.”
In January, ITX Fashion was selling a product on its website described as, but not labeled, as a Harris Tweed blazer. It said that because the product was not made using Harris Tweed, ITX had broken the law.
The Harris Tweed Authority said the proceedings concluded amicably, the ITX apologizing and assuring that there will be no repetition.
The authority said it accepted that the incident was “not deliberate and was an oversight on the part of ITX”.
The Harris Tweed Act of 1993 defines Harris Tweed as cloth that has been handwoven by the islanders of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra in their homes, using pure virgin wool that has been dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.
Harris Tweed has seen sales soar, reaching 1 million meters, the first time since 1992.
The Harris Tweed industry employs over 250 people and is, and will always remain, vital to the modern economic, social, cultural and social fabric of the Outer Hebrides, the Authority said. “Therefore it is imperative that the integrity of this well-respected quality fabric is safeguarded across the globe,” it said.
Harris Tweed Authority chief executive Lorna Macaulay said: “The Authority was created by the passing of the 1993 Act of Parliament to be the custodian of the Harris Tweed industry. We have a legal remit to protect and safeguard the historic fabric which is now synonymous with Scotland.
“The values of quality, beauty, skill and craft are embodied in the trademark and provide assurance for our customers that their Harris Tweed is genuine. Therefore we will never hesitate to challenge misuse of the name.”
Harris Tweed means a tweed which has been hand woven by the islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the islands of Harris, Lewis, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Barra and their several purtenances (The Outer Hebrides) and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.

That is the official definition of Harris Tweed as set by British law in 1993. Over the years this definition has changed, as production methods have changed.
The Outer Hebrides has a long history of weaving cloth. Before the turn of the 20th century, this cloth was made almost entire by hand, using the wool from sheep grown on the islands. Production was quite small, but in the early days of the new century the Industrial Revolution reached the islands and new weaving, spinning, and carding machines were introduced. Output of Hebrides Island tweeds was greatly increased.
In 1906 the Harris Tweed Association was organized for the purpose of establishing a trademark for the growing industry. Starting in 1911 these tweeds were labeled with the symbol of the Harris Tweed Association — an orb with a Maltese cross with the words “Harris Tweed.”
By the 1930s the output of tweed required a greater source of wool, so the original definition was expanded in 1934 to include wool that was produced in Scotland. This, however, led to some mainland companies labeling their product as Harris Tweed. The matter was ended in 1964 when the courts declared that the manufacturing process must be done completely within the Outer Hebrides in order for it to be called “Harris Tweed.”
The Harris Tweed Authority is a great aid in dating Harris Tweed labels. You can contact them with the number that is stamped on the label and from that they can supply you with the maker and approximate date of the cloth.
Written by Lizzie Bramlett, fuzzylizzie.com
from a 1930s coat - Courtesy of borntoolatevintage

from a 1930s coatCourtesy of borntoolatevintage

from a 1940s suit - Courtesy of Jackie Kwasigroh

from a 1940s suitCourtesy of Jackie Kwasigroh

from a 1940s lady's coat - Courtesy of Tottie Willoughby

from a 1940s lady's coatCourtesy of Tottie Willoughby

from a 1950s coat - Courtesy of morning-glorious

from a 1950s coatCourtesy of morning-glorious

from a 1950s coat - Courtesy of Endless Alley

from a 1950s coatCourtesy of Endless Alley

from an early-1960s coat - Courtesy of themerchantsofvintage

from an early-1960s coatCourtesy of themerchantsofvintage

from a 1960s jacket - Courtesy of thevintagepeddler

from a 1960s jacketCourtesy of thevintagepeddler

from a 1975-1980 garment - Courtesy of borntoolatevintage

from a 1975-1980 garmentCourtesy of borntoolatevintage

from a 1975-1985 garment - Courtesy of borntoolatevintage

from a 1975-1985 garmentCourtesy of borntoolatevintage

from a 1989 garment - Courtesy of borntoolatevintage

from a 1989 garmentCourtesy of borntoolatevintage

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