The History of Coco Chanel and Tweed

Tweed is one of the most classic fabrics used in fashion today and although the luxe fabric can be easily associated with Coco Chanel, it is more historic than one might think. Originating as far back as the 18th century, the Scottish actually created the fabric when they set out to create a denser option for their cold weather. The result was a new woven, twill fabric that later became known as tweed when a merchant in London misread the handwriting of tweel (the Scottish version of twill) confusing it with tweed.

The material was then traditionally used for upper class country clothing such as jackets for shooting. This was, however, until Coco Chanel found the weighty fabric. After borrowing sportwear made of tweed from her then beau, The Duke of Westminster, Chanel fell in love with the fabrics sophisticated and diverse qualities. Within the year, she commissioned an entire factory in Scotland to produce her iconic designs that included everything from sportwear to suits and coats; her colour pallet was inspired by the Scottish countryside too.

And of course, when Mademoiselle Chanel commits to a new style, everyone commits to a new style. By the following season, tweed was the new black and could be seen across every couture house in Paris. The legendary designer switched factories in the ‘30s to northern France so that she could start to experiment with tweed, combining it with other fabrics such as wools, silks and cotton. Today, tweed still remains a focal fabric to all the Chanel collection; especially since Karl Lagerfeld has been at the helm of the brand reimagining the fabric on iconic pieces in his extravagant collections. The house commented on the production of the fabric, saying, "The tweed is made by weaving the warp and weft, using a variety of different kinds of threads which creates a unique and somewhat irregular appearance. The warp – vertically strung – is the background of the fabric, the base that will support the assembly of materials. There can be up to 12 different threads used for a single warp. The weft – woven horizontally – gives the fabric its unique character and can have an unlimited number of threads. Tight, perforated, textured, thick, with a relief, plaited, random, twill… the potential number of effects is endless.” Tireless, timeless and iconic; what more could you want from the fabric eponymous with the House of Chanel.

For anyone looking for woven opportunities in fashion design, email your CV with an updated portfolio to dexmoore@freedomrecruit.com, who will be in touch shortly.

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