My first experience with bespoke Harris Tweed

Being an academic it should come as no surprise that I love tweed. My first experience with tweed was a stereotypical brown Herringbone sport coat with suede patches on the elbows. I think I got it at a chain store that no longer exists at the local mall. At the time I’m sure I thought it was fantastic and expensive, but that is to be expected when you are young and naive. I’m pretty sure it was a cheap mass produced tweed, but I loved it and thought it made me look like a professor.

As I started to rebuild my wardrobe I decided to get some new tweed jackets. Being a bit older and wiser I started by doing some research on tweed. It didn’t take long to come across Harris Tweed. I was in love. It has a long and fascinating history and is protected by an act of Parliament. No tweed can be called or labeled as Harris Tweed unless it has been woven by hand by weavers on the islands of the Outer Hebrides. The cloth almost disappeared in the 90’s, but luckily it survived and is no enjoying a resurgence as consumers move toward “slow” fashion. Interested readers can learn much more from the BBC Four series.

If you’ve done some research you’ll know that Harris Tweed is not cheap. The good news is that you can find vintage and used Harris Tweed sport coats in a number of places. Some people may opt for local thrift stores if they are lucky enough to live in an area with good thrifting locations. I am not so lucky and decided to opt for eBay. This can be a dicey endeavor since you can’t really be sure of the fit and condition of the garments or if it is truly Harris Tweed, but you can get a Harris Tweed sport coat for under $75. If this is not the way you want to go, you can also check out Tweedmans, Savvy Row, or Pepper Tree Vintage. In the end I had four or five Harris Tweed sport coats from a variety of sources for around $220 plus some tailoring.

While all of the sport coats were nice, I wanted something  little more special. While doing my research I had discovered Harris Tweed Hebrides and a lovely dark red/maroon tweed. Some more research and I knew how many yards I would need for a vest and sport coat and placed an order for the tweed. With the tweed on its way I began to search for a tailor. While I do enjoy my made-to-measure suit from Savile Lane, I had decided that I wanted something that was tailored in the USA and not China. I narrowed my choices down to Davide Cotugno Executive Tailors and Cuffs Clothing. Both shops offer MTM and contract with factories in the US for production. Davide Cotugno also offers a true bespoke option and in the end I decided on Davide Cotugno.

Here is the end result after about eight weeks of waiting.

I really love the set and the details that I chose like the lining. The cut is fairly trim as you can see from the images above and probably the only thing I might change.