Posted on

Why Harris Tweed?

banner ingrid

Ingrid Pettersson is a young Norwegian designer based in Oslo. She’s got her education from Oslo National Academy of Arts, and caught our eye the moment we saw her first runway show.

Destinction -   Photo: Guro Beitohaugen, Hair and makeup: Marielle Grøneng, Model: Gosia.
Destinction – Earlier work of Ingrid Pettersson
Photo: Guro Beitohaugen,
Hair and makeup: Marielle Grøneng,
Model: Gosia.

 

We sat down and had a short talk with Ingrid about her latest drop, two pieces made in original Harris Tweed, made with that extra personal tweak that only Ingrid knows how to do.

 

JF: Hi Ingrid, we would like you to explain, what kind of raw material is Harris Tweed?
Ingrid:
Harris Tweed is a tweed from yarn which is dyed and spun in the Scottish Outer Hebrides and woven by hand in homes of local crofters. Harris Tweed is a truly ecologically sound textile, with low-impact VOC (volatile organic compound) absorbent production process, non-allergenic and biodegradable.

JF: How did you come up with the idea to use this type of material?
Ingrid: I wanted to use tweed in several of the looks in my new collection. I got help to source and find an environmentally friendly supplier from Just Fashion. Harris tweed is known for its high quality and I was very happy to find out that they also had a sustainable way of making their fabrics.

Ingrid in action in her studio
Ingrid in action in her studio
Harris Tweed trademark
Harris Tweed trademark

JF: So, How does it affect your design to use this type of material?
Ingrid: Sometimes it can be hard to find the right suppliers, the fabric stores in Oslo have very little information about the textiles they are selling. Its always easiest to look online, but still it is very helpful to have skilled people to help sort out what is good and what is “bad”.

 

JF: What is the impact you have when you choose to use this type of source for a product?
Ingrid: Every garment will have a longer life and I know that the material is made in a sustainable way, and hopefully the customers will appreciate this. The price is higher, but I think people are starting to understand that we have to choose differently, spend money on quality and not quantity.

Cutting process by hand in Ingrids studio
Cutting process by hand in Ingrids studio

 

Take a look at the Tweed drop here

Classic blue and purple tweed skirt made in 100% pure wool from Harris Tweed
Classic blue and purple tweed skirt made in 100% pure wool from Harris Tweed

Dive a bit deeper into Harris tweed

Harris Tweed is made of 100% Pure New Wool, dyed, blended, carded, spun, warped, woven, finished, examined and stamped in the Scottish Outer Hebrides by local crofters and artisans.
The weaving process is done in the artisants homes, as the laws outline in the 1993 Harris Tweed Act of Parliament.

At the heart of the Harris Tweed industry lies the relationship between the weavers and the mills. Neither can survive without the other and they are connected through the process of making the tweed. There are also professional wool dyers and blenders, yarn spinners and warpers, cloth finishers and stampers and many more roles in between. They are all part of a slow traditional way of producing.

the Scottish Outer Hebrides where Harris Tweed is made
the Scottish Outer Hebrides where Harris Tweed is made

“The long, barren archipelago on the far north west tip of Europe is home to every dyer, blender, carder, spinner, warper, weaver, finisher and inspector of HARRIS TWEED. No part of the process takes place elsewhere”

Quote Harris Tweed website

 

Craftsmanship

Harris Tweed is a handmade fabric, and the only fabric produced in commercial quantities by traditional methods. It was originally developed because it was ideal for protection against the colder climate in the North of Scotland, but that also means today that it is made for longevity, and guarantees the highest quality,

Before finishing it up, it is washed and beated in soda and soapy water, before it is dried, steamed, pressed and cropped to a perfect, flawless condition. The final process is the examination by the independent Harris Tweed Authority, before application of the famous “Orb Trademark” which is ironed on to the reverse of the fabric as the ultimate seal of approval.

Your product is warm in winter and cool in summer. It resists water and wear and tear with ease, cleans easily and can be repaired with the simplest of tools.

Local sheep from the Scottish Outer Hebrides
Local sheep from the Scottish Outer Hebrides

Animal Welfare

The sheep that gave their wool to this fabric lives on the Scottish mainland. In the early summer, the island communities join together to round up and shear the local sheep. Like the whole process of Harris Tweed, this is also done in a slow manner with care for animals.

The wool fabric is also biodegradable and can be composted in a compost bin with other biodegradable materials a long long time from now in the future when they are worn out.

From the beginning, Harris Tweed was coloured with natural dyes, but this process can no longer be carried out, as the vegetation is now protected. The colouring process is still truly ecologically sound, and done with low-impact VOC (volatile organic compound) absorbent production process, it is non-allergenic and biodegradable.

 

Supporting traditional skills

Harris tweed have been woven for centuries and was originally made by crofters for familial use. The The Orb Trademark was registered in 1910.  Each inch of wool is dyed and spun in an island mill and every yard is handwoven in the home of a Harris Tweed weaver. These skills are passed down from generation to generation of the island’s community with pride. When you buy a product made from Harris Tweed, you support a tradition that needs to be aknowledged and continued.  You are now supporting low-impact handwoven production methods and true artisans.