I was recently asked by the fabulous Audacious Huxley for my definition of tweed. I thought that the answer would be easy and obvious, until I actually thought about it. Just parroting the usual Oxford dictionary description; “a rough surfaced woolen cloth, typically of mixed fleck colours, originally produced in Scotland.” or giving the standard origin story regarding tweed being a misreading of the word twill, whilst all true it seemed an empty answer.
I believe that tweed is a fabric steeped in British Heritage and so for me must be made in the United Kingdom or Ireland. I know that many great Mills around the world make a tweed fabric to different levels of quality, some rather good but to me they are not tweed. When buying a tweed garment surely part of the appeal is the heritage and the story it tells.
Tweed must be at least 80% wool or it is not tweed! I think it is great how popular tweed is in the high street at the moment but my pet peeve is garments with no wool content being called tweed. I will use Marks & Spencer as an example, online today they have a skirt that is described as “Classic Collection Tweed Pencil Skirt” and is priced at a very reasonable £29.50. However this skirt has no wool content at all, 72% Polyester, 21% Cotton & 7% Viscose. This garment has no right to be called tweed…
The delight of tweed is its versatility, it is a beautiful, warm, hard-wearing fabric that can be as colourful or neutral as the personality wearing it. The texture of tweed means that it can be matched with other items to become either traditional or contemporary. Tweed changes with the person wearing it and can adapt to any style.
In conclusion, I have released that I am a bit of a tweed snob and I am not sure any short definition can give tweed its full justice. If forced to produce one, I would say.
“Originating from Scotland and made within the British Isles tweed is a woolen woven fabric. Favored by many for its warm properties, hardiness and unique style.”
I would love to hear what your definition of tweed is…
- Laura Barton | How to wear tweed | Harrods Magazine, September 2012 (tweedvixen.wordpress.com)
- Scottish heritage fabrics like Harris Tweed find favor in Japan (japandailypress.com)