The Scottish Borders knitwear business is world famous, take a look at the catwalks each season and it is clear that top designers around the world are increasingly turning to Scotland for inspiration and materials. Tartan and tweed, wool and cashmere; all strut their stuff down the runway. The Scottish Borders is at the very hub of the world‘s woollen industry, creating colours and garments for the ever changing and exacting fashion houses.
It was a happy accident that named the cloth so aptly when a London merchant misread the word “tweel“ - a local form of “twill“ - and made the first order for “tweed”, for the textile trade is now as closely associated with the Borders as the River Tweed itself. At first the rough homespun cloth was for domestic use - though "Galashiels Grey" was more widely known - and it was not until Sir Walter Scott astounded London society in the 1820s, with his checked trousers made from a black-and-white check derived from the plaids of the Peeblesshire shepherds, that the world first took to tweed. Later, Prince Albert and Queen Victoria fuelled demand when they discovered the subtle shades that Border mills were introducing.
As long ago as the 13th century, wool was being exported from the town of Galashiels to Flanders and soon a small hand weaving trade grew up. The woollen industry became the basis of Galashiels' prosperity, reflected in the motto of the Galashiels Manufacturer's Corporation "We dye to live and live to die", founded in 1777.
Lochcarron of Scotland Visitor Centre in Selkirk is a working production mill with factory tours, with an extensive retail outlet and small coffee shop. As a founder member of Scotland‘s elite Cashmere Club and proud recipients of UK Fashion‘s Top Gold Award, quality is Lochcarrons priority. From humble beginnings Lochcarron has developed and diversified to now produce the world‘s largest range of authentic tartans, highland wear and more. Ewan McGregor had a McGregor kilt and evening jacket made by Lochcarron for his Star Wars premiere and wore the same kilt with one of Lochcarrons Tweed jackets for his role as Chieftain of the Crief Highland Games. Samuel L Jackson‘s character in “The 51st State” Elmo McElroy supports his clan by wearing a kilt in one of his affiliated tartans. Lochcarron also supply fabrics to the fashion worlds Vivien Westwood, Ralph Lauren and Jean Paul Gaultier.
The historic town of Hawick is famed for its high-quality knitwear, specialising in cashmere and the major centre for the industry in the Scottish Borders. The town therefore has many shops with a large selection of knitwear and cashmere as well as fine Scottish products.
Hawick Cashmere Company Ltd is one such specialist manufacturer of the finest quality knitwear, supplying some of the world‘s leading retailers and designers in London, Paris and New York. But why travel half way across the globe for something you can find virtually on your doorstep? Hawick Cashmere has its own Visitor Centre at its mill in Hawick and there is an extensive retail area where the choice of colour and range of cashmere knitwear and accessories is amazing. Classic styles sit alongside the latest contemporary knitwear. There are also styles in cashmere blends and Merino wool, too. And as you are buying at the source, as it were, the prices mean you get more cashmere for less cash.
Since 1878 Peter Scott & Co. Ltd has been supplying quality knitwear around the world from their base in the Scottish Borders town of Hawick. From small beginnings the ever-expanding Peter Scott & Co. Ltd moved in 1898 to the Buccleuch Street mills in Hawick where they still manufacture over 100 years later; and from there they have become one of Scotland's best known exporters. You can visit the excellent factory shop with a range of quality knitwear, or better still, experience Scotland at Work by participating in the factory tour.
Pringle of Scotland are one of the best known knitwear retailers in the world and their factory, and factory shop are found in its home of Hawick, originally set up by Robert Pringle in the 19th century. Pringle began by producing women‘s lingerie before moving into the knitwear/cashmere industry at the run of the 20th century. Pringle became famous with the golfing world as names such as Tony Jacklan and Nick Faldo represented Pringles on the golf course. Nowadays, the brand has been re-positioned and holds catwalk shows for London and Milan Fashion Week
There are a variety of shops selling lengths of Border tweed, and the justly famous Border knitwear; Wrights of Trowmill a working weaving mill, Wiltonburn Country Cashmere a converted barn showing designer cashmere knitwear by the likes of internationally famous designer Valerie Louthan both outside Hawick; these are only some of the excellent knitwear shops within the Scottish Borders where you‘ll find a pride in excellence and an ingrained respect for good value.
For further information on Scottish Borders Knitwear visit: