The History of Tweed

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Tweed is a distinctive and popular material that’s perfect for sports jackets. It’s used for a whole range of other garments and accessories too, including trousers, ties, waistcoats and hats. In addition to being very nice to look at, tweed is also loved for its rich history and associations with Scottish country life.

The tweed we know today came into being in the 19th century. It started being produced in the Outer Hebrides and other Scottish islands, and then spread to the highlands. Weavers in the area started to make this kind of fabric out of necessity. It was woven using pure new wool from the many farms there, and created as a very tight weave in order to make it as warm and weather-proof as possible.

Particular styles of tweeds were made in different areas and on different islands. The Isle of Harris produced Harris tweed, for example, just as the Isle of Shetland produced Shetland tweed. Though these practical fabrics were first produced to keep farmers warm and dry, they soon became popular with the aristocracy and sportsmen.

The rapid growth in tweed popularity really came to a head when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought the Balmoral Estate. Prince Albert commissioned a special Balmoral tweed even before the castle was built.

This sparked a trend of landowners commissioning estate tweed, and before long the fabric was a mainstay in the wardrobe of the upper classes, on both sides of the Scottish/English border.

Today there are a huge range of tweed and tweed inspired fabrics available. You’ll see it in bespoke clothing as well as in designer collections and on the high street.

Tweed is an excellent way to bring some traditional style and personality to your look, and of course it has the added benefit of the durability and practicality it was designed for.

Want to read more about tweed? Here’s an introduction to the Prince of Wales Tweed.