A case study for innovation in contemporary tweed
McDougall, Kirsty (2011) A case study for innovation in contemporary tweed In: IFFTI conference. Fashion and luxury: between heritage and innovation, 11th - 14th April, 2011, Paris.
Dashing Tweeds is a woven textile and menswear brand set up in 2006; its philosophy based on the reinvention of tweeds, suitings and traditional luxury woollen fabrics for fashion. Fabrics are sold by the metre or bespoke designed. The company takes inspiration from the functional and aesthetic heritage of traditional British wool whilst embracing innovation in luxury textiles. Early Burberry and McIntosh are inspirational in their adoption of fabric innovation in conjunction with classic British design. The company is dedicated to the evolution of traditional aesthetics and production methods. It embraces the links between heritage and contemporary design innovation in the form of hardwearing, functional, luxury products. This paper will focus on international client case studies that have chosen to work with Dashing Tweeds, exploring the market demand and desire for UK produced heritage inspired, innovative products in luxury menswear. Tweed is a traditional British woollen fabric woven in variations of a twill structure from rough spun blended wool, traditionally used for outdoor activities such as fishing and hunting due to its moisture resistance and durability. Harris Tweed has been hand woven in the Western Isles for many years and is synonymous with British textiles. This method of hand production, high quality materials and durability seals its status as a luxury fabric in the context of the current fast moving fashion cycle. It is imbued with the emotive notion of the landscape and culture which inspires it. It evokes a response in menswear that appeals to memory and nostalgia of less ephemeral and disposable fashion. Much of its appeal is bound up in its association with home spun production, ‘authenticity’, melange of colour and functionality. Dashing tweeds combines the heritage of tweed and the use of technical yarn to produce fabrics which have a sense of tradition with an innovative function. Fine reflective filaments are woven into woollen suiting using a variety of new and traditional structures that allude to the tweed aesthetic. A current project is exploring the use of carbon nanotube/polymer composites imbedded in wool textiles with a view to creating fabrics that are recognisable as tweed but possesses hidden function. Designs are based around traditional checks, twills and herringbones. Colour inspiration comes from the surrounding changing environment, much in the same way as traditional tweeds were inspired by the landscape of rural Scotland and Ireland. Dashing Tweeds colour comes from the urban environment of double yellow lines, wet pavements and the parks and architecture of London. Dashing Tweeds appeals to a menswear market that doesn’t want an obviously innovative looking aesthetic but enjoys the technical aspect through hidden innovation in a heritage inspired textile. Through analysing the relationship between Dashing Tweeds and their client base, the paper will address market demand and relevance of such a company and discuss the importance of heritage inspired cloth, innovation in materials and sustainable production to the brand strategy and future of Dashing Tweeds and their clients. Copyright Kirsty McDougall 2011-05-06
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