Nation asked to give up its stash of Paisley Pattern

The search is on for the nation’s stash of Paisley Pattern in a celebration of the design that helped create fortune in the Scottish town that gave it its name.

An array of Paisley Pattern ties held in the collection of Paisley Museum. PIC: Elaine Livingstone.

Fashion designer Pam Hogg is working with Paisley Museum, which marks its 150th anniversary today (Sunday), in bringing together the best examples of the pattern that led to the town’s massive growth in the early 19th Century.

Paisley was at the forefront of the manufacture of the ‘imitation Indian shawls’ – which later became known as just Paisleys – with around £132m worth of the garments, at today’s prices, exported from the town in 1834.

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The teardrop pattern that defined the garments became favoured again in the psychadelic 1960s, with Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles helping spark a revival, with the design then working its way onto everyday items from phone cases to toilet roll, kitchenware and now facemasks.

The Paisley teardrop design has worked its way into garments and objects around the world, including this magazine rack. PIC: Contributed.

Scots are now being asked to share any examples of Paisley Pattern that they have in their home, with the best examples to be included in a new display to mark the museum’s £42m redevelopment.

Pam Hogg, Paisley-born fashion designer and Patron of Paisley Museum, said: “The Paisley pattern has had a lasting impact on the world and has been endlessly reinterpreted and reinvented.

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"There are examples of Paisley pattern all around us and I'd like to encourage the public to share their items and the stories of how they were acquired, used, loved and passed down.

Fashion designer Pam Hogg, who was born in Paisley, has gifted her 2020 Paisley Pattern-inspired Best in Show creation to Paisley Museum. PIC: Mariana Cattoir.

“The most interesting will be considered for display alongside a piece from my 2020 couture show, where I created the Paisley Poodle print incorporating my life-long love of the iconic Paisley design.”

In 1905, the museum held its first exhibition of Paisley shawls in recognition of the impact the textiles had on the town’s development with more than 1,200 examples now held.

Catriona Baird, the museum’s textile curator, said: “The shawls first started coming into Europe from Kashmir in the late 1700s through various trade routes, with them coming home with explorers or the military. They became very desirable items.

" Because they were sought after, companies across Europe started to copy them.

"Paisley was a town where there were established weaving skills. It was able to cash in and these shawls became such a major reason for the population explosion in Paisley. All the skills involved were here.

“This division of labour meant that Paisley could produce them cheaper than other shawl-making centres."

In 1792, there were 3,500 looms in the town and by 1820, this number had doubled.

Paisley’s expansion led to good wages and living standards for weavers in the years before the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815.

But by the early 1840s, Paisley was devastated by broader economic crisis with the town declared insolvent in 1842. Around 67 of the town’s 112 manufacturers were made bankrupt.

Queen Victoria publicly supported the town with the purchase of 17 shawls in 1842, with the receipt for

91 pounds, 16 shillings and 6 pence – around £5,550 at today’s values – in the museum collection.

Photos of your Paisley Pattern gems can be sent to [email protected] or on social media using #ShowUsYourPaisley and @paisleymuseum.

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