Harris Tweed Authority safeguards the iconic cloth

In January 2012 the Harris Tweed Authority discovered that ITX Fashion Limited, the internet trading arm of Zara, was selling a product on its website described, but not actually labelled, as “Harris Tweed Blazer”.

The product was not made from Harris Tweed and therefore ITX had acted contrary to the Harris Tweed Act 1993, and various trademarks held by the Authority.

The proceedings have been concluded amicably, with the Authority having secured assurances from ITX that there will be no repetition.

It has been accepted that this incident was not deliberate and was an oversight on the part of ITX, for which it has apologised. However, the Authority considers such conduct with the utmost seriousness. Misuse of the Harris Tweed name risks diluting it and undermines the integrity of an iconic Scottish name.

The Harris Tweed Act of 1993 defines Harris Tweed as cloth that has been handwoven by the islanders of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra in their homes, using pure virgin wool that has been dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.

This Parliamentary Act ensures that only cloth following this process can be certified with the Harris Tweed Orb symbol and referred to as ‘Harris Tweed’. This clearly signifies that the product is the world’s only commercially produced handwoven tweed.

Recent sales of Harris Tweed have soared with sales reaching one million metres – the first time since 1993.

Employing over 250 craftsmen and women the Harris Tweed industry which dates back over 100 years is, and will always remain, vital to the modern economic, cultural and social fabric of the Outer Hebrides. Therefore it is imperative that the integrity of this well-respected quality fabric is safeguarded across the globe.

Lorna Macaulay, chief executive of the Harris Tweed Authority said: “The Authority was created by the passing of the 1993 Act of Parliament to be the custodian of the Harris Tweed industry. We have a legal remit to protect and safeguard the historic fabric which is now synonymous with Scotland.

“The values of quality, beauty, skill and craft are embodied in the trademark and provide assurance for our customers that their Harris Tweed is genuine. Therefore we will never hesitate to challenge misuse of the name.

“We are committed to furthering the Harris Tweed industry as a vital means of livelihood for the skilled artisans weaving and working in the mills of the Outer Hebrides, whose unique talents continue to be passed down from generation to generation.”