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ISLANDS OF DESIGN

Island Catwalks

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Stornoway, Benbecula, Kirkwall and Lerwick don’t usually grab the headlines alongside Milan, Paris or New York when it comes to fashion.  However, designs and textiles from the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland have all featured on the world’s most famous fashion catwalks.

Orkney’s Festival of the Horse has recently inspired the 2020 Winter Collection of up and coming designer Charles Jeffrey, who owns the Loverboy brand. The traditional Orcadian designs are homemade for children, but the new creations were paraded at London Fashion Week. 

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Harris Tweed, or an Clò Mhòr, has featured on the pages of Vogue, been worn by film stars such as Ben Affleck, and inspired Vivienne Westwood, Henry Holland and local designers like Sandra Murray and Netty Sopata. Meanwhile, linen produced on Scalpay, Isle of Harris, has featured in Hollywood films such as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, on the Broadway stage, and also been worn by musicians such as KT Tunstall. 

Traditionally, mink stoles and coats were seen as high class fashion items. In the 1930s fox farming started in Shetland, followed by mink farming, until demand for pelts declined and the farms closed in the 1970s. Attitudes to the use of real fur in fashion have changed since then. Nowadays, most designers pledge to never use it. However, there are some that now argue that natural products are more environmentally friendly than manmade fibres. 

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