Harris Tweed Hebrides throws party in New York

Ian Angus MacKenzie explains the Orb trademark to Sir Alan Collins along with Lauren Stones, the head of consumer products at United Kingdom Trade International in New York, and UKTI fashion specialist, Madeleine Lange.
Ian Angus MacKenzie explains the Orb trademark to Sir Alan Collins along with Lauren Stones, the head of consumer products at United Kingdom Trade International in New York, and UKTI fashion specialist, Madeleine Lange.
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THE famous Harris Tweed Orb Trade Mark’s 100th birthday has been celebrated in style in New York at an event hosted by island company Harris Tweed Hebrides which welcomed 200 high-level guests from the worlds of fashion, design and media.

A reception in Crosby Street Hotel, SoHo, to mark the centenary and “honour the place of the United States of America in the history of Harris Tweed” also featured the launch of a new promotional film aimed at the American market.

Ian Angus Mackenzie, chief-executive of the Shawbost-based company said: “As far as I am aware, there has never been a Harris Tweed event like this in New York which is pretty amazing really, given that this is undoubtedly the most important city in the whole history of the industry.

“We are never going to get back to the quantities of Harris Tweed that used to come here, but there is a definite revival of interest and we are delighted with our range of US clients.”

Alongside Mr Mackenzie, guests to the Tweed party were welcomed by Harris Tweed Hebrides chairman Brian Wilson; sales manager Roddy Martin and creative director Mark Hogarth, who produced an event which featured models displaying some of the latest uses of Harris Tweed by leading fashion houses as well as HTH’s own collaborations with Scottish designers.

The UK Consul-General, Sir Alan Collins, also added his welcome for the event, saying: “Harris Tweed is one of our most iconic exports with a particularly strong heritage in the United States.

“It is very appropriate to mark the centenary of the Orb Trade Mark with an event of this kind and I am delighted to see a resurgence of Harris Tweed in a contemporary context.”

New York-based film-maker Caspar Zafer was commissioned by Harris Tweed Hebrides to make a ten-minute film aimed at the US market which was given an enthusiastic reception when previewed at the party.

Casper had visited weavers and the Shawbost mill earlier this year, and followed the production process through to top end stores in Fifth Avenue.

The Hebridean atmosphere was helped along by two of North America’s leading traditional musicians – piper Chris Layer from Indiana and fiddler Paul Woodiel from New Jersey – both of whom have toured and taught at feisean throughout the Highlands and Islands.

A selection of photographs by Murdo MacLeod, the award-winning photographer from Shawbost, provided the visual backdrop and the Macallan laid on a whisky tasting to help proceedings go with a swing.

Commenting on the US visit, Harris Tweed Hebrides chair Brian Wilson, said: “At present, things are going extremely well with the mill and weavers working to capacity.

“However, it is essential to look to the future and that’s what this event is all about – we need to introduce Harris Tweed to new markets, new ideas and the wildest possible range of creative forces. There is nowhere better to do that than in New York.”