The Intrigue of Tweed

/ / Design Stories

Tweed has become an all-encompassing term, ever-rising in popularity in its use to describe check and herringbone patterns in country colours. The recent rise in the need for tweed has come about as the public has taken British heritage items to it’s collective heart; the celebrated ‘Country Gentleman’ look is seemingly here to stay.

But what is the true history of tweed? Where did it originate? What’s distinctive about tweed design? Hopefully this post can fill in some of the potential gaps in knowledge with regards to this remarkably versatile fabric.

The remarkable rise in Estate Tweeds

The word tweed is an English variant of the Scottish word ‘tweel’, itself a pronunciation of ’twill’. Tweel refers to rough, unfinished hand-woven wool fabric from the Scottish Highlands & Islands, although historians differ in opinion whether tweed originated in the Highlands or the South after the name became associated with home-weavers along the River Tweed in the Scottish Borders.

The fabric is desirable for outerwear due to it’s durability and resistance to moisture. Traditionally crafted using British Wool, tweed patterns have since taken a turn towards lighter-weight garments and finer-fibre wools for a more general use.

Historic Tweed vs. Modern Tweed

Design-wise, tweed takes it’s basic inspiration from Tartan checks. However, while Tartans are associated with Scottish families and clans, ‘Estate Tweeds’ would identify people who lived and worked in the same area whether they were related or not. It soon became fashionable for land-owners and retainers to dress in the same patterns.

The patterns and colours themselves are often influenced by the natural landscape, with base colours of moss-greens and earthy-browns matched against over-checks of heathers, reds, and yellows. Some have four or five colours in the check, others just one, no single design can claim to be the ‘original’ tweed.

If you’re after more of a visual explanation, all of our Tweed and Tweed Estate fabric designs can be viewed within our Apparel section in Jacketing and the Heritage Collection. Many tailors and garment-makers are still doing tweed proud with modern innovations on this classic British fabric, and here at Abraham Moon we look to do the very same, rising to the modern demand for fashionable tweeds whilst keeping true to it’s design roots and heritage.