Earlier this year, when luxury brand Chanel presented its fall-winter 2022-2023 collection at Paris Fashion Week, Forbes magazine described it as “an ode to tweed,” reminding anyone who had perhaps forgotten that tweed is an excellent fabric for cooler weather.
With its historical roots in Great Britain, originally hand-woven there and worn by the upper classes as durable and comfortable informal outdoor wear especially when hunting or riding, tweed has been a constant throughout changing fashions and trends. Nowadays women’s style icons Claudia Schiffer and Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, are both known for wearing tweed jackets, and NBA star Dwyane Wade has been known to rock a tweed suit.
What is tweed?
Tweed is the general name for a fabric that is woven from wool with a soft, warm and sometimes rough texture that drapes well. It may have a pattern, such as herringbone, houndstooth, or Glen plaid (also known as Prince of Wales check), or it may be a plain weave. While traditionally associated most closely with the Scottish isles and Ireland, tweed textiles are now woven all over the world, drawing their inspiration from the classic cloth of the British Isles.
Tweed jackets were once the exclusive domain of men, but in the 1950s designer Coco Chanel helped to soften and femininize the fabric, creating tweed suits that women can wear. Tweed can now be used in garments for all genders, ages, and occasions. It looks good and feels comfortable, while also providing protection from wind and light rains in the autumn months.
Tweeds: From traditional to new looks
Harris tweed is one type of this textile that is still made in the old way without automation on the Isle of Harris, off the coast of Scotland. Locally sourced virgin sheep wool is dyed, spun, and then woven using a loom that weavers pedal, like a bicycle. A short film by National Geographic shows the production process of this textile, and how it keeps alive the heritage of Harris island and its inhabitants – both humans and sheep. Because of the way it is made, this type of tweed has an air of tradition and a little luxury. As a signal of its quality, Harris tweed garments are always marked with a label guaranteeing authenticity.
But not all tweeds are the same. Tweed has traditionally been known for its muted earth colors: lots of brown, gray, khaki, and beige tones, with maybe an occasional blue or green to add some brightness. Nowadays, younger designers have discovered tweed made with modern techniques and widely different colors and textures. It’s not unusual to see a tweed as bright and multi-colored as any other fabric. Using these new kinds of tweed, designers create playful styles and fast fashion garments that have attracted a whole new generation of tweed lovers.
Fall into tweed
After the heat of summer and before the biting cold of Korea’s winter, tweed is the perfect fabric to wear during the autumnal months when temperatures can vary from cold to cool, and when it might rain in the morning but be sunny in the afternoon. This season, Samsung C&T Fashion Group labels such as Beanpole Ladies, Beanpole Men, LEBEIGE, Kuho plus and 8seconds are all on trend, offering a variety of tweed items like jackets, dresses, skirts, and even accessories such as hats, bags, and hairband.