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Cloth Spotlight: Lovat Mill, by Eric Twardzik

March 26th, 2024

Lovat Mill, based in the Scottish Borders town of Hawick, proudly styles itself as the “Home of Tweed.” It’s an audacious claim to make, but one that the independently owned and operated fabric weaver can back up with history. 

In the mill’s own telling of the tale, in 1826 another Hawick weaver named William Watson & Sons dispatched a batch of fabric to a London merchant. The woolens had been labeled “tweels,” the equivalent of “twills” in the local Scotch dialect. However, the merchant misread the word as “tweeds,” which made a certain amount of sense. The robust wools would have been used for sporting clothes, such as those a gentleman would wear for fishing or hunting along the neighboring River Tweed. 

Rather than correcting the merchant, William Watson realized he had marketing gold on his hands, and embraced the mistake with gusto. While tweed is today woven across the world, Lovat stands apart as the sole weaver working in its birthplace. 

“As far as we are aware, there was never any formal business relationship between Lovat Mill and William Watson but, as close neighbors, combined with the various overlapping textile family shareholdings, it’s fair to surmise that the mills would have worked together as part of the then-sizeable Hawick weaving industry,” says Alan Cumming, who today serves as Lovat’s design director. 

“Now, as the only remaining Hawick weaving mill, still situated on Commercial Road within a stone’s throw from the original William Watson location, we are proud to be the torch bearer for the “Home of Tweed” legacy,” he continues. 

In keeping with its unique place in tweed history, Lovat continues to do things a bit differently. Rather than showing its collections at trade shows per the industry standard, Lovat works directly with clients to develop unique, made-to-order designs with a two-bolt minimum. It also provides exclusive tweeds to over 180 private estates and military regiments throughout the UK—and closely guards the specifics of their designs.  

However, one needn’t have a title or a military commission to enjoy Lovat tweeds. The mill has a permanent, stock-supported collection that is available from all the finest tailors (this includes Cad & The Dandy, naturally). It is spread across four books: The Ettrick, a true sporting tweed that weighs an astonishing 21oz and is made water-resistant by virtue of a Teflon finish; The Kirkton, a still hardy 16-ouncer that’s ideal for a true fall/winter sport jacket; The Teviot, which incorporates merino wool to lighten its weight to a more indoor heating-friendly 13/14oz; and finally, Heritage Coatings, which is the stuff that indestructible overcoats are made from.

And yet, a mill—even one based in Hawick—cannot live on tweeds alone. To that effect, Lovat also offers pure cashmeres and specialist suiting cloths including “The Bard,” a high-twist wool suiting intended for travel.

But chances are that if you find yourself looking through Lovat swatches, you’re in the market for a tweed—and searching in the exact right place. 

Discover the country tweed jacket, which is part of our current ready-to-wear collection, or book an appointment to discuss having a bespoke jacket made to your own measurements and specifications. Appointments are available in London, New York, Stockholm, and at trunk shows around the world.