Like tweed used to be

If you’ve ever set foot in a factory that makes shirts or jackets or coats, even a small one, you’ll be quickly acquainted with the hard fact that there’s no shortage of cloth in the world, and indeed there’s really rather a lot of it, and while much of it is perfectly serviceable, there it just sits, gathering dust in a corner of said factory, and it might be quite easy to become jaded by this surfeit of fabric, ageing and forgotten and dusty.

Every now and then, though, comes along a cloth that wipes the jade away; cloth which reminds you why you do what you do; cloth special in and of itself, and is infused not only with a hit of lanolin, but also an origin and provenance — and by extension an invisible-but-there presence and authority — worth blathering on about. This is one such cloth.

It is tweed made on a pedal-powered Victorian loom by a virtuosic weaver in fairly far north Scotland, using the fleece of sheep of the historic Herdwick breed, from a flock of several hundred born and bred on the fells of the Lake District by a shepherd and his family who carry on without seam the traditional pastoral work of three generations before them, and millennia of humans before them, going back to the Neolithic Age. It now finds itself plonked on of all things a Formica cutting-table in a factory in north-east London. And, after having made its way along such a rich, storied, and evocative supply-chain (there must be more suitable terms) it hopefully won’t all be downhill from here.