We are incredibly lucky to supply specialist cutting tools and equipment to a number of interesting industries and are proud to work with some of the finest UK manufacturers in apparel, mattresses and beds, upholstery and many, many more.
The Outer Hebrides, on the far northwest tip of Europe is home to every weaver, dyer, blender, carder, spinner, warper, finisher and inspector of Harris Tweed cloth. Donald John Mackay is one producer of Harris Tweed cloth who we are honoured to supply shears, tagging equipment and scissors.
The islanders of Lewis, Harris, Ust and Barra have long been recognised for the excellence of their weaving, but it wasn’t until 1846, when Lady Dunmore, widow of the landowner of Harris, devoted her time to marketing the beautiful tweed to her wealthy friends further afield, that this fabric left the crofts and local markets of the islands and began to make its way across the rest of the country and over the decades, Harris tweed was embraced by the world.
From royalty to Hollywood icons and the finest designers of couture, this humble cloth, produced by the skilled craftspeople of the Outer Hebrides, became a wardrobe staple, a must-have item for discerning customers across the globe. Harris Tweed cloth has scaled Everest and graced the Silver Screen, sailed the Seven Seas and showed off on red carpets and catwalks. By the middle of the 20th century, the Clo Mor (Gaelic for 'The Big Cloth') had secured its status as a true and timeless classic textile.
Harris tweed is widely recognisable today, with its famous Orb shaped certification mark (the ultimate seal of authenticity) ironed onto the reverse of the fabric, only once examined by an independent Harris Tweed Authority inspector. Harris Tweed is highly protected by the islanders and although some production processes have advanced since 1846, the strict laws that make Harris tweed so unique remain unchanged.
From the land, comes the cloth: The Harris Tweed Law.
The Act of Parliament in 1993 brought into being the Harris Tweed Authority, a new statutory body, replacing the Harris Tweed Association originally set up in 1909.
In accordance with the Act, Harris Tweed cloth must be: “Handwoven by the islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.”
As such, the land and people are woven into the very fabric of the cloth, reflecting as it does the colours of the landscapes.
Donald has been weaving Harris Tweed from his Luskentyre home for over 45 years – following the footsteps of both his father and grandmother, who made the cloth before him, and the process has hardly changed at all over the years. From his shed behind the house, Donald has woven tweed for global brands, reigniting the Harris Tweed industry and has even worked his way into the Queen’s honours list – receiving an MBE for his services to the industry in 2011.
Back in the ‘90s Donald’s wife Maureen, who he runs Luskentyre Harris Tweed with, took a call from global sportswear giants, Nike. They asked for some samples to try out in a new trainer. After sending off the samples Donald forgot about the phone call – that was until he said “They called back and wanted to order 10,000 yards of cloth for a trainer. I only weave on average 27 yards a day, so it would have taken me years to produce.”
Of course, Donald wasn’t shaken by the order and as Nike’s famous ‘Just Do It’ tagline, Donald set about mobilising weavers throughout the Outer Hebrides. Three months and lots of man hours later they had completed the order. Nike were delighted, the new Terminator trainer was a huge success, and they rang back for another 10,000 yards.
Before the Nike order there were only around 80 weavers left producing Harris Tweed in the Outer Hebrides, but the success of the Nike range raised the popularity of Harris Tweed exponentially, opening it up to a completely new audience and making tweed ‘cool’ again. There are now over 200 weavers, producing cloth for everything from tailored suits to cushion covers.
In Donald’s Tacura Shopping Basket:
The KAI 5000 Series scissors are made of a hardened stainless steel. The smooth knife edge, sharp blades give the Kai scissors an amazing smoothness in cut and feel.
The Mark III Avery Dennison Tagging Gun is the industry standard for fastening applications. It’s perfect for tagging medium-weight fabrics and knits. The tool’s ergonomic design with easy-squeeze mechanism makes it easy to use for effective applications.
ELK scissors are produced to the highest quality, using premium raw materials and traditional production methods. The ELK Blunt/Blunt Pocket scissors and made from HRC 58 - 52 forged steel and are hardened and nickel plated. A professional grade scissor that will last a lifetime.
To discuss your manufacturing requirements, contact us today:
Call: 0330 123 1950