I love fashion and I love interior design. There are times when the two worlds collide but more often than not, they go side by side in tandem. What influences each is a mystery, but I believe sometimes there is a perfect storm where we look back to archives searching for inspiration that will resonate with the mood out there today by echoing a past that lies hidden in our subconscious.
The perfect example is Harris Tweed, which is back in a big way. It has crossed all lines of design. I grew up in England. My school coat was grey and white herringbone Harris tweed, and I hated it. My brother's school uniform included a blue herringbone jacket with leather elbow patches and I loved it! I wore it, whenever I could, with tight jeans and tee shirts. That same jacket was passed along to my son who wore it all through his teenage years until he grew out of it and now, it is packed away waiting for the next generation to enjoy it. Harris tweed doesn't die!
During Fashion Week in Toronto, my good friend, the brilliant Robin Kay, founder of Fashion Week and who now mentors designers globally, pulled me aside and told me, "I hate the coats you wear on Love It or List It. You look like a large black muffin; warm, but not at all stylish. You must meet Marissa Freed."
Marissa Freed, the 34 year old President of Freed & Freed international LTD., one of the oldest Canadian coat manufacturers, is the fourth generation of the family business based in Winnipeg where the coats are made she definitely knows about cold winters! Freed says, "as a designer, I know the challenges of looking stylish in sub zero winters. I focused my designs on blending heritage luxury with English 100 per cent tweeds, leather buttons and accents along with a high tech, breathable membrane to keep out wind and cold.
The collection of coats, Freed'homme and Freed'dame are toasty-warm. And are they ever! I know, as I wore one the other day while taping Love it or List it outside in two degree weather plus wind chill; I didn't shiver or shake and I looked hot. (Pun intended). I plan to wear it throughout this season along with a black version I fell in Love with. You can find them on Instragram @freedandfreed or on Facebook at 'FREED'dame & FREED'homme'. Now take a look at what is happening with tweed in design. It's eerie! Chairs with leather elbow pads just like my gorgeous Freedcoat! Harris Tweed is everywhere again.
Harris Tweed as been around since before the Industrial Revolution when it was a handmade cloth from the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. In 1840, a group led by the Countess of Dunmore, whose family owned the Harris Estate took a philanthropic stand to help this little cottage Industry become an economic boon for the ordinary people of the outer Hebrides. To create an industry, of the people for the people. And thus was the Harris Tweed market born. More info here.
I doubt anyone thought tweed would still be around all these years later on a huge global scale with applications that are, wearable, sitable, walkable. But we live in a world that is uncertain and unsettling. Tweed represents s something constant, durable and beautiful. Are we growing a little tired of throw away fashion and throw away design for our homes? I always encourage my young clients just starting to create a home, to buy at least one piece of investment furniture, or accessory, or piece of art each year rather than following a trend that will come along, be copied cheaply for the mass market and then be gone.
This year's Harris Tweed accents, furnishings and clothing feel new and fresh. For once, I am happy to follow and endorse this gorgeous trend but only if it's actually, really the authentic Harris Tweed.