Luxury Lewis tweed exports

Monday 9th August 2010
Karen warping: Courtesy:

Breanish Tweed - a family based business at Port of Ness on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides hand weaves a lightweight tweed using 100% natural yarn, all dyed and spun in Scotland. The cloth is subsequently supplied to the best bespoke tailors and fashion houses.

Breanish Tweed, situated in Adabrock in the district of Ness on the north coast of Lewis is a family business operating in the luxury fabrics market that has seen its order books grow following support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) on a growth plan targeting top of the market bespoke tailors from fashion houses around the world.

Breanish Tweed is the finest of lightweight tweeds, woven to order on a single width Hattersley loom, and making cloth of Shetland wool, lambswool and cashmere much lighter and softer than the tradition Harris Tweed cloth.

Right: Iain Finlay Macleod, Breamish Tweed MD and weaver above the harbour with samples of cloth. Picture credit: Leila Angus / HIE

Managing director, Iain Finlay Macleod, playwright, author, producer and BAFTA award winning director, took over the company two years ago.

His family has always been involved in textiles, with his mother Chrissie and sister Christina undertaking the design work and production and his father Donald John a weaver for 40 years.

The company also employs four hand knitters and a seamstress to produce a small range of luxurious knitwear and accessories sold at bespoke tailors in Mayfair, London and 5th Avenue, New York.

The company also produces the only handmade vicuña  tweed in the world, which is the most expensive hand-woven fabric available within the textiles market and prized for its incredible quality. As the national animal of Peru, vicuñas produce small amounts of extremely fine wool, which is very expensive because the animal can only be shorn every three years.

 "Weaving is an integral part of the fabric of the area so it’s important that these traditional skills are maintained," says Iain Finlay. "HIE and SDI have been really helpful with advice and information, and instrumental in moving us forward and putting us in touch with the right people. The help we have received has transformed the business as we have been able to employ more people, and we will also looking to take on a warper and a darner. We are going to be flat out in the Autumn."

The enterprise agency has been working closely with Breanish Tweed and has supported its growth plans with a £21,000 grant towards building, training, and marketing costs relating to export activity.

HIE's business development manager Alasdair Maclean commented: "We have been working with Breanish Tweed over the last year to refine their strategy and have helped them put the tools in place to implement this. The aim is to grow the business through development of relationships with agents around the world, which already has led to new clients in Japan.

The Scottish textiles sector has a great reputation for its quality, diversity and design excellence and the creation of globally recognised brands. We are delighted to work with Breanish Tweed and will continue to work closely with the business to help them realise their ambitions."

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