Footwear inspired by the rugged Lancashire countryside, using fabrics proudly made in England
2021 is seeing the revival of our highly sought-after LANX x British Tweed range, which first graced the shelves of the LANX shop back in 2018, and uses fabrics proudly made in England by the finest UK tweed manufacturers.
The new collection is inspired by the rugged Lancashire countryside and, as fellow Lancastrians will know, we are not short of a hill or two around here. The LANX team have a pledge to climb Pendle Hill one morning every week before sunrise and look out over the rolling Ribble Valley hills. In fact, Pendle Hill and the surrounding areas were the inspiration for the new collection, and the setting for the short film above which showcases the 2021 British Tweed range.
The new collection features three of our popular styles (a Shireburn brogue, a Bayley boot and a Dibnah mid-boot) all re-worked in a variety of tweeds supplied by the brilliant Marton Mills textile mill, located a few miles north of Leeds.
Our previous tweed ranges have used materials from a handful of suppliers and manufacturers local to LANX, including Benjamin Thornber & Sons from Clitheroe (as seen in our AW18 range), and John Spencer from Burnley (as seen in our LANX x Burnley FC collab in 2019). We were keen to stick to this theme of local textile manufacturers, and so we got in touch with Marton Mills in Otley and grabbed ourselves a few samples of their famous tweed.
So, first things first, what is tweed? Simply put, tweed is a woollen textile that has been spun and woven to make it firm and hard-wearing. It is a popular material for outerwear clothing such as jackets, coats, and trousers (and at one time military uniforms) due to its moisture-resistant hardiness and durability in harsh climates.
Tweed originated in rural Scotland and was popular amongst Edwardian era upper-classes who donned it for leisurely pursuits such as shooting and hunting. The original name of the cloth was in fact “tweel” (Scottish for twill), due to the material being woven in a twilled rather than a plain pattern. The name "tweed” is attributed to a mistake on the part of a London merchant, James Locke, who in 1831 received a letter about some tweel from a mill in Hawick, Scotland and misinterpreted the handwriting. The goods were subsequently advertised as Tweed - a name which quickly established itself and has remained ever since.
A century later, Marton Mills, our chosen supplier for our 2021 British Tweed range, was founded in Skipton in 1931 and initially saw success as a knitwear manufacturer for over 45 years. This was until the recession in the 70s saw the knitting trade badly affected, and they had to cease all knitting production and switch to the weaving trade. Since then, the acquisition of new machinery has taken Marton Mills to the next level of tweed manufacture. In fact, their factory in Otley currently produces over 20 kilometres of tweed weekly, and is supplied to companies worldwide.
Marton Mills is a traditional, family-owned textile mill and incorporates a number of steps in their tweed-making process, using a mixture of old and new machinery, to ensure their finished product is of the highest standard. Their manufacturing procedure begins with ‘warping’, a process where the yarn is wound on to a machine, cut and tied up, then the machine is moved along and the steps repeated. This can take anything from 2 to 11 hours to produce depending on its complexity.
Next is the ‘twisting’ stage, where the warp created in the first stage is woven through a large scale machine. Finally, comes the ‘weaving’ stage. Once the warp is prepared it is put into loom and this is where the fabric is created. Weaving is the process of lifting and lowering the shafts in a given sequence to create a gap through which the weft thread is then placed (image below). The material is then inspected for faults, and finished to transform the cloth from its greasy state into beautiful finished fabric.
As you can imagine, Marton Mills has a near infinite amount of possibilities when it comes to colour options for their tweeds, and so making selections for our British Tweed range was a lengthy process all in itself! This process actually began way back in 2019 when our Head of Design, Matt, headed over to Marton Mills to have a look at what materials they had on offer.
They kindly provided a catalogue of tweed swatches for Matt to take back to LANX HQ, where he then paired the tweeds side-by-side with our leathers and assessed the combinations. He managed to whittle down their catalogue to around 15 tweed and leather colourways, which were then sent off for sampling so that we could see the pairings in context as footwear styles.
From here we picked our top six styles for final production, which now make up our 2021 British Tweed collection. The collection will launch online and in-store 09.10.21