The tweed advocate talks his brand Paul Walker and the re-birth of the trend.
There is a common misconception when considering the contemporary tweed world that the fabric can only be worn when strolling the hillsides, or if you happen to have a country retreat for shooting getaways with your chums. Although tweed has a rich pedigree and heritage among Ladies and the Gentry, it is a fabric that can not only stand the test of time and the harshest of weather bashing, but also completely adaptable for the modern man or woman who likes to layer as well as mix and match.
The full-on tweed look has, in recent times, been far less Charles and Diana and more Sherlock meets Peaky Blinders and more recently Rebecca, which to some extent has given tweed a re-birth. The sustainability elements have also elevated its popularity – tweed is almost 100% biodegradable – as has the tailored and soft tailoring styles of the ‘2000s and something’.
The truth is that tweed should be seen as a fabric and, with regards to specific garments, as a playful subject. One that can be used in its entirety for a more formal attire and occasion, but also one that can lean on the heady days of McLaren and Westwood as a vintage piece set against more urban styles, such as distressed denim, leather and workwear.
Walker Slater, the tweed specialist from Scotland is a full-on advocate of treating the fabric as a flexible friend as opposed to following any rules. Co-founder and owner Paul Walker says, “I don’t think everyone has had an experience with tweed and perhaps that is a reason for a lack of understanding or better still confidence in how it can worn.
“Yes, we love the complete look and often we are presented that way, that’s the Walker Slater brand as a specialist, but we are very encouraging about understating the history of tweed and how it has been used across the eras in many different ways. Just look at Vivienne Westwood for example and how she played with the fabric for her punk-inspired designs,” he adds.
The price-point of a tweed garment may have been seen as a luxury in the days gone by, but a current and savvy audience around sustainability and waste, the buying better but buying less mantra has seen a more thoughtful approach toward purchasing, where customers shop for key pieces as opposed to fast fashion fixes.
“I think we have seen a more considered way of shopping across our shops and for different reasons,” says Walker. “We have our first shops here in Edinburgh, but then also in Glasgow, the new London menswear flagship which opened right at the start of lockdown and now also Tokyo,” he says.
“Tweed is a special buy. It’s an emotive transaction and often utilised for certain occasions, but I’m a big believer that tweed can be multifaceted and layered and partnered with different fabrics from casual to more traditional, absolutely.” He adds.
So whether we are digging out what we like to call a ‘vintage ’piece from the back of our parent’s wardrobe, scouring the markets or looking for a particular image fashioned by the likes of Walker Slater, tweed, regardless of age transcends the decades with somewhat ease. One of THE most agile of fabrics, which can appear in many different guises and styles, from suiting to accessories, sets the tone for some serious understated style.