Celebrating 100 years of the Orb

A FASHION show in Stornoway set to celebrate 100 years of the Harris Tweed Orb will see some the work of the UK’s leading fashion designers grace the catwalk.

Vivienne Westwood, Henry Holland, Nigel Caborn, Derylk Walker, Ben Sherman, Topman, Iona Crawford, Joyce Paton, Judy R Clark and Sara Berman will each showcase pieces made in the iconic fabric at the fashion show in An Lanntair arts centre on Saturday, March 12.

Chief Executive of show organisers, the Harris Tweed Authority, Lorna Macaulay expands: “We’re staging this very special show to celebrate the centenary year of the ‘orb’ trademark.

This unique occasion will also help to acknowledge the skill and support of the local community which this extraordinary cloth has enjoyed for over 100 years.”

She continues: “The resurgence of the fabric as a contemporary cloth which features within the collections of so many high profile designers is amazing.

“Who would have thought that 100 years on, this traditional fabric would have developed such a ‘sexy’ image and be appearing on some of the most famous catwalks around the world. “It has also played a major role in building the profile of our island and for the skill of our weavers internationally.”

Judy R Clarke, who features in the Stornoway show and is one of Scotland’s leading young designers, loves working with the fabric as she comments: “Harris Tweed has such diversity; it’s a beautiful fabric to work with. It’s fantastic to be a part of such a prestigious show on the island, especially one that represents such unique heritage.”

Tweed as been hand woven in the Outer Hebrides from time immemorial.

In 1846 Lady Dunmore, widow of the late Earl of Dunmore, asked some Harris Tweed weavers to weave tweed for her in the Murray tartan. This was so successful that she began marketing tweeds to her wealthy friends in London – the beginning of the Harris Tweed industry.

The Harris Tweed Association limited was incorporated in 1909, succeeded by the Harris Tweed Authority which was established by an Act of Parliament in 1993.

Following a difficult number of years during the 90s and early new millennium, the Harris Tweed industry has begun to revive due to increased application of the ancient cloth in ladies wear, home and corporate interiors, soft furnishings and in high quality accessories.

There has also been a significant increase in appreciation of the craft and skill that goes into every metre of Harris Tweed and its social, historical and indeed economic importance to the Outer Hebrides.

The unique protection and the strength of brand have enabled Harris Tweed to survive these hard times which have largely wiped out most of the UK textile industry.