Thursday, 9 April 2009

The joy of tweed

I bumped into a neighbour this morning who was wearing a tweed jacket. It's not an exaggeration to say that my heart leaped with joy at the sight of it. It was three-button with a boxy cut and in a palate of smoky and charcoal greys and black.

Tweed really is a fabulous material. The colours give me the most aesthetic pleasure, particularly the often unusual, even daring combinations to be found in your Harris. All natural too. Mind you, texture is also something to relish - ever felt the nap on a piece of Breanish? Sumptuous.

I think people under-rate its practicality and flexibility: a well-cut tweed jacket is perfect for today's business meetings where you want to look smart but retain an element of informality. (By the way, I would make sure to choose a blue- or grey-dominant colour for town.) But it's just as right with jeans down the pub or park.

Moreover, they just refuse to wear out. I've been buying them for twenty years now and I haven't had to throw one out because of old age. In fact the only one that had to be shown the door was a Hugo Boss number in a light-weight maritime blue and green Scottish weave but with unfortunately directional shoulder pads. I have a prized navy, sky blue and tan single-button jacket made for me by Richard Anderson nearly ten years ago, which I can honestly say looks as good (probably better) now than it did when new.

Despite tweed becoming more popular amongst designers in recent years I think we still don't see enough of it. When was the last time you saw a tweed bomber jacket for instance?

As well as all the qualities enumerated above its sourcing makes it the ideal material for our eco-conscious times. It has an authentic, interesting and local provenance as well as environmentally friendly, craft-based and sustainable manufacture. Finally, in buying the Celtic stuff you're often supporting marginalised traditional communities. If it were Italian, French or Spanish I really think we'd rave about it.

What's not to like?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

i find green tweed the best for me, when in town your fellow men think the world must be well as you seen to be heading off to the country for a long weekend, while country people assume all is well because you are happy to dwel among them with seemingly no compulsion to return to the big city to earn more money, J A Gibbs. Abington

gaw said...

Good point. Wear green because it's sort of in-between.

Anonymous said...

I believe i was the last man in England to have a jacket made up in thornproof cavalrytwill . [CONTAINING COTTON]

fugitiveink said...

I'm not sure about the Spanish, but clearly there are plenty of Italians and even French people who adore tweed and who wear a lot of it, both in town and in the country. The only downside is that real tweed is actually quite hard to cut properly, which is to say, it requires a degree of intelligent tailoring perhaps inappropriate to the mass market, because otherwise it hangs strangely and can make the wearer look rather malformed. But since, as you rightly note, it lasts forever, does it really matter if tweed garments cost a bit more than their lesser rivals?

In any event, it's nice to hear someone singing the praises of a fabric too rarely honoured in its own terroir.

gaw said...

@fugitive ink: thank you for your elaboration. Tweed appears to be a select, not to say, obscure enthusiasm but one that when felt, is felt strongly.