Partner Spotlight - Annie Mackay of Crotal Harris Tweed
Here at Sam Brown London, we have a straightforward ethos. We create goods of outstanding quality, made with passion and attention to detail.
Tradition and quality are important to us. So when we look for partners, we look for businesses that approach their work in the same way. The materials we use to make our products must have provenance, and showcase the very best craftsmanship the UK has to offer.
This means the relationships we have with our partners are the very best.
Our Leather Bags
The components that make up our leather bag collection are all sourced in a very particular way.
Our leather is cured using traditional methods in one of the last traditional tanneries in the UK.
Our thread is hand-woven in Northern Ireland and our buckles are created using sand casting, an old technique that is almost extinct due to competition from high yield, low-quality machine processes.
The components are strong and they are crafted with excellence in mind. Our job is to bring them together in a contemporary way that does justice to the quality of the materials while ensuring these ancient techniques are given a new lease of life.
So, when we looked for fabric to create linings for our bags, we had to ensure they were both classic and contemporary, durable and stylish.
Really, there was only one place to go.
The Isle of Harris
Long before the industrial revolution transformed Britain, islanders in the Outer Hebrides, in the far North West of Scotland, were manufacturing cloth entirely by hand.
Harris Tweed, as it became known, is made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides. As the popularity of this fine cloth grew, so did the number of manufacturers. Eventually, the creation of ‘Harris Tweed’ spread to the mainland where, as usual with mass production, quality dipped in an effort to create as much wealth from the industry as possible.
The islanders were outraged that their traditional craftsmanship was being diluted and inferior products were being passed off as their work. So they worked together to create the Orb Trade Mark, to ensure customers know when they’re buying fabric made in the Outer Hebrides. They are therefore guaranteed the quality of wool and craftsmanship that is required of true Harris Tweed.
Our esteemed partner, Annie Mackay of Crotal Harris Tweed works within the principles of the cottage industry where Harris Tweed began. In her home-workshop, Annie spins to life the most dazzling combination of colours, weaving with the deftness of Arachne to produce herringbone patterns that are genuine works of art.
Annie spins orange and chocolate brown, pink and cerise, and sky blue and navy patterns that reflect the colours of the seasons, the colours of the Outer Hebrides. Every time you open one of our bags you are transported to these magical isles.
Annie's work has tradition firmly at its heart, pouring passion and creative flair into every sheet of fabric she creates. The name "Crotal" is the Gaelic name for the lichen that grows on stones and rocks and was traditionally used for dyeing the wool. This name connects a very modern business firmly to its ancient roots.
We are so proud to work with genuine traditional craftspeople like Annie. We love to support her as she helps to preserve techniques that needed no technological innovation to make them great, just a gentle refinement of crafts that have been practised for hundreds of years.
It’s a joy to help promote the work of people who create beautiful, hard-wearing, long-lasting traditional goods.
You can find out more about Annie and Crotal Harris Tweed by visiting her website.