3 Cutting-Edge (Yet Old-School) Ways Brooks Brothers' Harris Tweed Blazers Are Uber-Sustainable

They don't even have a factory for the wool, believe it or not.

Photograph courtesy of Brooks Brothers.

Both Harris Tweed and Brooks Brothers are decidedly old-school menswear institutions, so it might be surprising to hear that the clothes they create together are way ahead of the curve when it comes to sustainable fashion.

Representatives from the two firms joined each other on stage this week at Glasgow Caledonian University to discuss, among other things, just how environmentally-friendly the clothes they've been producing for over the past 80 years really are.

An act of Parliament requires Harris Tweed weavers to work from home.

This isn't just an incredibly considerate company policy to give its workers what might be the easiest commute in the business. In order to legally be called Harris Tweed, the fabric has to be woven at the homes of weavers who live in Scotland's Outer Hebrides.

"There was some degree of legal protection, but it wasn't water tight," said Brian Wilson, who heads Harris Tweed Hebrides. "So in 1993 there was an Act of Parliament that brought it together as legislation."

The law takes driving to work and factory pollution out of the equation, and it also makes it easier to pass the trade down from generation to generation; the latest weaver who came to the company is just 19 years old.

Harris Tweed isn't beholden to new trends.

Trendy things get tossed after one season, but Harris Tweed's position as a timeless material makes it a wardrobe mainstay.

"That coat is never going to go out of fashion because we hope it was actually never in fashion," said Harris Tweed's creative director Mark Hogarth. He added that his weavers focus more on quality than on creating fabrics that keep up with what's coming down the runway.

Harris Tweed can only be made from pure virgin wool.

The wool Harris Tweed uses comes straight from the backs of blackface sheep. The term "virgin" stipulates that the wool hasn't been processed, meaning it's also sustainable.

The wool is also such good quality that "Italians used to buy blackface wool like crazy to make mattress stuffing out of it," said Doug Sherer, Brooks Brothers' senior fabric specialist. "It was a wedding present that Italian parents would give to their newly married sons or daughters: a mattress stuffed with blackface sheep wool."

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