The title of this post may seem a little odd but for those in the know, we understand the Herdwick sheep and it's wool isn't always the most favoured wool for Savile Row tailoring. But things have changed and I'm going to bring you up to speed. This breed of sheep is a native of Cumbria and the English Lake District. In other words the home of the Redmayne bespoke tailoring workshop.
So let's briefly give you the basics about this wool and tell you why I think the cloth from this sheeps fleece is very unique and sexy. Firstly, this breed are natives of Cumbria, like the author. They are also considered a rare and vulnerable breed. It is said by shepherds in the fells that Herdwick fleece always "drys first after a storm". They're a hardy bunch that spend their time surviving the highest mountains in England, the Lakeland Fells.
In the past their wool has generally been used for carpets and insulation and other glamorous uses. Let's face it, if it can survive the Cumbrian Fells weather it can handle pretty much anything. The yarn is strong, warm and very durable and some would say too durable for Savile Row tailoring. This brawny character has meant that for years it was overlooked as a choice of wool to be used in bespoke hand tailoring. So the challenge was, could we harness this Herculean wool for bespoke and made to measure tailoring?
Thankfully, there are a few gifted weavers who felt this could be done and this strong humble breed could offer more than something to walk on. Well, that determination has paid off as Herdwick wool is now being woven and knitted into all sorts of lovely unique clothing. I say unique for good reason as it's only found in one area and it only comes in two colours, dark or light grey. I would say take your pick but you can't. You see the fleeces are sorted like this - Fleeces from older sheep are darker and thrown on one pile and younger lighter fleeces are thrown on another pile at the mill. This highly sophisticated method allows for the unique weave of Herdwick, a mixture of fleece giving a very natural, undyed colour and texture that is unmistakable in its character and texture. It can take a dye but I don't think it works well as the colours seem a little forced. It's better left honest and simple as it is with its earthy mixture of greys.
(Two Herdwick tweed lengths)
I have here a couple of beautiful lengths which I'm going to make a few of samples from. A man's overcoat and a ladies tweed coat or shooting suit. We'll make them using our made to measure service and I'll show you the outcome in a few weeks. If you can't wait and you want your own this winter then you know what to do. Get in touch and get something going as you won't find this hanging in a department store any time soon.
Tom has been involved at the highest level in the tailoring industry for over 37 years. He has also been blogging and furthering knowledge of the craft for over 15 years. He is married to Claire and has three children.