From time immemorial, the islanders have woven a beautiful and intricate cloth that is simply known today as Harris Tweed. But it wasn’t until the middle of the 19th century that the textile became highly sought after when Lady Dunmore, the widow of the landowner of Harris, inspired by the results of their clan tartan replicated by Harris weavers in tweed, enthusiastically spread a good word to her wealthy friends further afield, establishing at the same time new trade.
Visit one of the Harris Tweed mills on Lewis to learn about the making of the world-renowned luxury textile. Protected by an act of parliament, the cloth can only be called Harris Tweed if it's handwoven and spun in the Outer Hebrides by the islanders using local wool.
When shopping for Harris Tweed products look out for the stamped Orb Mark pressed onto every length of cloth - a guarantee of authentic Harris Tweed and a firm reassurance of its quality and craftsmanship.
There are Harris Tweed shops in different towns around the islands where you can select from everything from jackets, suits, skirts, hats and handbags to mobile phone covers and toiletry bags, all of them carrying the famous Orb trademark. Did you know that fashion designer Vivienne Westwood is a fan of Harris Tweed and has used it to inspire her collections?
Harris Tweed is widely available in global boutiques too and can be found in luxury shops in USA, Canada, Italy and Japan to name just few alongside Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs. The past year 2012 has seen the highest levels of cloth production for almost 15 years and in 12 months alone more than a million metres of tweed have been produced by the mills across the islands.
The Isle of Eriskay is famous for the Eriskay Jersey, one of the rarest pieces of craftwork in Scotland. Traditionally, these intricately patterned seamless jerseys were made by local women for their fishermen husbands.
The stunning Hebridean landscape is a never-ending source of inspiration for local artists whose work can be viewed in town shops, galleries and studios throughout the islands.