Harris Tweed teams up with Heriot-Watt University


Harris Tweed Hebrides, the award-winning company based at Shawbost in the Isle of Lewis, has created a new link with Scotland’s leading centre for technical and creative innovation in the textiles sector.

The year-long collaboration between Harris Tweed Hebrides and the School of Textiles and Design at Heriot-Watt University, based in Galashiels, will keep the heritage of the iconic fabric firmly at the centre of innovations and new products.

The £125k project, supported by Creative Scotland through the ‘Creative Futures’ Fund, hopes to develop new woven fabric and product ranges for interiors and fashion.

Workshops on the islands and at the School of Textiles and Design in the Scottish Borders will draw on the distinctive heritage of the craft of making Harris Tweed, while introducing its makers to new design practices and textile technology innovations.

Participants will include designers, managers, designer makers, mill workers, and weavers reflecting the range of skills needed for the production of Harris Tweed cloth.

They’ll draw on the School’s experts and its extensive resources, which include textile labs, design studios, research library, the Textile Archive – and the largest weave shed in Europe.

The project partners will showcase the outcomes of the 12-month long collaboration in winter 2014, at an exhibition with accompanying publication.

Speaking about the project, Professor Alison Harley, Creative Director at the School of Textiles and Design, said, “This project brings together two distinctive and well established Scottish textile institutions to develop talent, creative thinking and innovative practice.

“Thanks to our reputation in the global textile sector we’ve built up a track record of success in collaborations of this kind, developing creative talent, contributing to textile technology advancements and building the commercial potential of new products, so we’re very much looking forward to this opportunity to work with one of the world’s most iconic textile brands.”

Margaret A MacLeod, Brand Development Director at Harris Tweed Hebrides, said: “There is a long history of co-operation between the Harris Tweed industry and Galashiels which has a formidable reputation as a centre for education and innovation in the textiles industry.

“We very much look forward to working with the School of Textiles and Design to develop both skills and innovative practices which will ensure our unique heritage cloth continues to flourish in a global marketplace, while also helping to secure rural employment for our workforce, independent weavers and the local businesses we support.

“Innovation is key to driving forward our manufacturing business and ensuring we have access to the best industry skills and expertise is very much welcomed by our company.”

Earlier this year Harris Tweed Hebrides was named Textile Business of the Year at the UK Fashion and Textiles Awards in London.

Caroline Parkinson, Director of Creative Industries at Creative Scotland, said: “This project will develop innovative, textile design methods using tweed, which will set in motion benefits which will be felt for years to come, and keep Harris tweed at the heart of Scotland’s fashion and textile industry.”