Working with Harris Tweed – Manolo Blahnik: the celebrated Spanish shoe designer

The company credited with reviving the Harris Tweed industry will be given a tenth birthday salute at the prestigious Scottish Style Awards this weekend at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow.

It will be the first in a series of events to mark ten years of Harris Tweed Hebrides which took over a derelict mill at Shawbost when the industry was at its lowest ebb and now gives employment to around 250 mill-workers and weavers in Lewis and Harris.

Mary McGowne, organizer of the Scottish Style Awards, said: “Everyone in the fashion and textiles industries admires the exciting and remarkable success of Harris Tweed Hebrides. On their tenth birthday, it’s only right to recognise it with a special show which gives a taste of what has been achieved with the fabric”.

Over the decade, Harris Tweed Hebrides has won numerous awards for both the quality of its product and for exporting. Around two thirds of output goes overseas with Japan, Germany, Italy and North America as the biggest markets.

Chief Executive Ian A Mackenzie, said: “Every client is important to us but it is crucial to the status of the fabric that we continue to work with top-end clients who add to the richness and diversity of Harris Tweed’s reputation.”

In the current season, these have included

  • Thom Browne: the cult American fashion leader who have used the cloth for a stunning collection of coats and jackets, for men and women, priced between $3-4000.
  • Manolo Blahnik: the celebrated Spanish shoe designer whose collections were made famous by Sex and The City commissioned a vibrant palette of colours for footwear
  • Prada: the iconic Italian brand visited Shawbost mill in search of an authentic fabric to “reflect the gritty modernism of the 1970s” before producing classic jacket cuts of that era
  • Triumph Motorcycles: a special edition of the legendary Triumph Bonneville - The Dapper Bonnie – complete with Harris Tweed seat and trim has attracted a record number of online hits among their global following

Ian Angus has led the company from its inception along with principal investor, Ian Taylor, and former UK Trade Minister and HTH chairman, Brian Wilson, who said: “It has been a great journey and a credit to everyone involved. The age profile of weavers and mill-workers has been transformed, new markets opened up and Harris Tweed now has a great future as well as a glorious past”.

To mark the anniversary, Glasgow company BLK29 was commissioned to create a film and photography collection which reflects the complexity of the Harris Tweed process and the Outer Hebridean landscape which inspires it.

The Scottish Style Awards show, styled by creative director Mark Hogarth, will include designs by the award-winning Holly Fulton, Nigel Cabourn and Walker Slater.