One of the things I like best about blogging are the comments that readers leave. It often amazes me that one of you will actually verbalize a thought that has been rambling around my head. I suppose that blogging is a bit like those proverbial birds flocking together, that a blog attracts readers that tend to support one’s own world view.
Or you could just call us kindred spirits, all of us who love fashion history and vintage clothing and textiles and design.
Kindred Spirit Karen of Small Earth Vintage recently commented about Harris Tweed, and how after watching a documentary about it she has become obsessed with finding it while thrift shopping. But it goes deeper, as she says she now not just shops, because she is constantly comparing the quality of tweeds she finds. I can’t think of a better way to learn about the differences in textiles, and you can have the fun of shopping at the same time!
Meieli posted that reading this blog has increased her interest in buying only clothes from the US, Canada and the UK. That is great, as the remaining companies who are producing in these countries often struggle to stay alive. Again, Harris Tweed serves as an example. This is a fabric that has come dangerously close to dying out completely, but a renewed interested in it is helping bring the production of it back from the brink.
The rule I try to follow while shopping is to buy clothing items that are produced in the areas where the industry is part of the heritage of the region. That means I want denim woven in North Carolina, cashmere processed in Scotland, and woolens made in areas where it is cold! Of course, this is not always possible, as in some cases, the industry just no longer exists. After four centuries of shoe production, I’m pretty positive that shoes are no longer made in Lynn, Massachusetts.
I heard an interview with designer Norma Kamali today, and she said something that fits nicely in with this general area of thought: Very few of us buy new clothing because we need it so we need to be buying those things that are special and that make us happy. She’s right, of course. I spent all summer weeding out my own closet, and some readers posted they were doing the same. We have more than we need, so when we shop, we need to remember to buy what truly is special. I have a feeling that is not going to be a $7 tee shirt made by child labor in Vietnam.
So why is Harris Tweed so special? Watch this short – about seven minutes – video and find out.
Look carefully at these strands that I pulled from a piece of Harris Tweed I have in my fabric stash. Not one of these four yarns is a single color. It’s this blending of color that gives Harris Tweed its richness.