Lewis family is cashing in on the softer side of tweed

THINK of tweed products from the Western Isles and those woven on the island of Harris immediately spring to mind.

But a family business in the neighbouring island of Lewis is making a name for itself in the luxury fabrics market and is selling to bespoke tailors in Mayfair and New York's Fifth Avenue.

Breanish Tweed, based in Adabrock in the district of Ness on the north coast, makes a cloth much lighter and softer than its Harris counterpart.

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The company weaves to order on a single-width loom, making cloth made of Shetland wool, lambswool and cashmere.

It also produces the only handmade vicua tweed in the world, which is the most expensive hand-woven fabric available within the textiles market and prized for its quality.

As the national animal of Peru, vicuas produce small amounts of extremely fine wool, which is very expensive because the animal can be shorn only every three years.

Breanish manager director Iain Finlay Macleod, who took over the company two years ago, is also a playwright, author, producer and Bafta award-winning director.

His mother Chrissie and sister Christina undertake the design work and production, and father Donald John has been a weaver for 40 years.

The firm also employs four hand-knitters and a seamstress and plans to take on a warper and darner.

Iain Finlay said: "Weaving is an integral part of the fabric of the area, so it's important that these traditional skills are maintained."

The company has seen its order book grow, following support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), which has provided a 21,000 grant towards building, training and marketing costs relating to export activity.

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