The Tweed Run – a ride in London with cyclists on vintage machines – has helped to spark interest in the traditional Scottish woollen fabric.
This interest is likely to go into orbit from Saturday onwards as the new Dr Who sports a vintage Harris Tweed jacket.
David Reid, a director of Harris Tweed Textile Manufacturing Ltd, told BBC.co.uk that Harris Tweed was a "magical" cloth and had "romance and spiritualism" running through it.
"We’ve been deliberately trying to market Harris Tweeds appeal to younger people," he said.
In the bicycle market, style photographer Guy Hills and RCA-trained weaver Kirsty McDougall have been producing Dashing Tweeds suits – famously worn by Gary Fisher: “It’s impressive to people when you arrive on a bicycle looking elegant,” – since 2008. The suits are are veined with retro-reflective yarns, and cost a bomb.
"Appealing to the dandy of either sex; [Sporting Tweeds] adds panache to any sporting activity," says the website for Dashing Tweeds.
"Capturing the urban zeitgeist in a fabric, select tweeds across each range have been designed as Lumatwill. A unique weave of wool worsted and reflective yarn, Lumatwills appear by day only in their smart combination of colours. By night, under illumination, hidden reflective lines shine out, offering an inventive and stylish solution to attire for the pedestrian, cyclist or scooter rider."
Last year, tweed enthusiasts on the London Fixed-Gear & Single-Speed forum held the first Tweed Run, a Critical Mass with panache. 150 bike riders in assorted tweeds and Merino wool togs, rode a short distance in central London, and kicked off a worldwide trend. There are now Tweed Runs in a number of American cities and Japanese style mags have raved about the idea.
Manufacturers have now cottoned on to the success of the wool-based ride. An online shop on the Tweed Run website has brought together a collection of Tweed Run items.
H Huntsman & Sons have produced a special edition Tweed Run Cycling Suit. Huntsman has been trading since 1846, each year commissioning a limited edition ‘house tweed’. For the Tweed Run cycling suit, the cut is based on a traditional Huntsman shooting suit with the house’s famous broad shouldered single button, single breasted silhouette with nipped waist. It’s available in made-to-measure and bespoke options.
Rapha has produced Tweed Run knee-length Merino wool cycle socks.
Dashing Tweeds created the Tweed Run Flat Cap, designed for cycling featuring a deeper back panel for a firmer fit and a slightly elongated brim to keep the rain off. The cap is hand-sewn in Yorkshire using a wool twill print with the bespoke Tweed Run design and material woven by Dashing Tweeds that incorporates the company’s Lumatwill retrorefective yarns.
Quoc Pham has made some Tweed Run Sprinter Shoes. They are "as functional as they are beautiful and designed with a sole that’s stiff enough for cycling yet comfortably soft for walking." The handmade shoes use vegetable-tanned leather and are hand-polished to create a deep antique cognac patina, before being finished by rubbing with many layers of beeswax to seal. The printed insole features the Tweed Run bespoke bicycle pattern.
There’s also a Tweed Run silk scarf and pewter hipflask.
Italian-owned Brooks, the saddle makers, have produced a Tweed Run Custom Brooks saddle with a design by American leather artisan Kara Ginther.
The 2010 Tweed Run takes place on 10th April and is a 12-mile jaunt where "proper attire is expected. Tweed suits, plus fours, bow-ties, cycling capes, and jaunty flat caps are all encouraged…please, no beastly denim."