Harris Tweed Jackets Reincarnated as Bags
Catherine Aitken loved Harris Tweed – hardly an unusual trait in a Scottish person – but had a hard time getting her hands on the fabric. That's why she turned to used jackets when she decided to make robust men's bags with a bit of Highland flavor. She could pick them apart and transform a tired coat into an eye-catching satchel. Now she sells her work out of her studio in Leith, the small, hip neighborhood that thrives along Edinburgh's port on the Firth of Forth, and in the British Museum.
"This comes from my love of mooching round thrift and charity shops," says Aitken, who worked as a film producer before giving it up to start her business. "People also bring them to me and some customers bring their own to be created into a bag especially for them."
The only appropriate reaction to Aitken's upcycled creations, which she refers to as her "Renaissance Line," is to wonder how precisely she makes them. It's complicated, but she's figured out a system. It goes like this.
1. "The original Harris Tweed Label is taken out."
2. "The lining, padding, and interfacings are all removed using a picking tool, scalpel, and scissors."
3. "Once just the cloth is left, it's into the washing machine at a low temperature – this also binds the yarn into a closer tighter weave, closer to its original texture when the jacket was new."
4. "The pieces are then dried, ironed, cut to size, interfaced, and then we go over them looking for areas that may need to be patched with our Scottish deerskin leather."
5. The jackets are folded and carefully sewn up. Because each jacket is unique and each bag is constructed to showcase different design elements, the building process varies quite a bit more than the tearing apart process.
Aitken says most of her work targets the "suited and booted who want to have a bit of individuality in their everyday wardrobe." That works out just fine because tweed jackets are not uniformly made. The pockets are different, the shooting patches are different, and the men who've worn them down are all different. The only constant element, really, is Aitken herself.
Catherine Aitken will be part of a fantastic Men’s Fashion and Accessory Pop-Up Shop over Easter Weekend and we hope you can come along!
Princes Square, Buchanan Street, Glasgow on the 18th, 19th and 20th April.
We would like to announce the launch of the ‘The Gentleman's Emporium of Luxury’ Pop-Up Boutique in Princes Square, located on Buchanan Street’s ‘Style Mile’, over the Easter Weekend. The Shop will feature a range of Men’s Fashion and Accessories from four of Scotland’s Luxury Brands on sale exclusively at the event. There will be a range of products on show including Tartan Jackets, Highland Brogues, Harris Tweed Accessories and Luxury Watches.
The Focus of the Shop is ‘Made in Scotland’, including a spot-light on Scottish Textiles and Scottish craftsmanship, presenting a range of products designed and created in Scotland.
The Four Brands include –
Hunter Kingsley Tailoring - https://www.hunterkingsley.com
Catherine Aitken Accessories - www.catherineaitken.com/
Kennett Watches - www.kennettonline.com/
Buchanan Bespoke Footwear – www.buchananbespoke.com/
Unit 31, Princes Square - First Floor (between Kurt Geiger and Arran Aromatics).
Opening hours are:
Friday 10am – 7pm
Sat 9am – 6pm
Sun 11am – 5pm
The new Maggie Clutch is now online. Beautiful leathers - Scottish Deerskin and Nappa Leathers - teamed with pleated Harris Tweeds and silk linings. A textural delight as well as being a practical everyday size. Zipper closure and magnetic stud to keep the fold in position, the classic style looks great teamed with jeans or a little black dress. Versatile perfection.
The original Munro bag is now back in stock. It's one of the first designs created, and was also one of the first manbags in Harris Tweed. A simple design, but really stylish, standing out with the strap being attached with kilt pins - an amazingly strong attachment. Great for all weathers, this is a wonderful away day bag, but it's also large enough and strong enough to carry a small laptop, netbook or ipad - amongst other things of course. Currently available in the gorgeous green herringbone overcheck, more colours will be added from time to time.
We hope you all had a wonderful time over the festivities and are now fighting fit for 2014. For us - it's back to the studio, creating some new designs, consolidating our production base in Scotland and buying new materials. It's going to be an exciting year ahead - watch this space!
We're having a sale - we've reduced our remaining stock as we get ready to create new designs in the new year. Thanks for all your custom and support during 2013 and we hope you have a lovely time over new year and all best wishes for a wonderful 2014.
Last year I produced Mark Cousins' documentary - What is this film called Love?
It was great fun being back in the midst of film producing again and the film has travelled the world at various festivals. Mark was the writer and director of The Story of Film - An Odyssey
http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-story-of-film-an-odyssey currently screening on TCM along with a selection of films introduced by Mark himself. He's just recently written and directed The Story of Film with Children so how he found the time to write and direct a lovely 4 minute film inspired by one of my bags, I don't know! It's beautifully romantic - you can view it here:
And here's the star:
Renaissance Munro Meall Ghaordie
Hope you like it!
So the fashion weeks are over for another season. So many gorgeous designs, beautiful fabrics. Stand out for me was the Vivienne Westwood collection http://www.viviennewestwood.co.uk/multimedia/red-label-ss14-the-catwalk
Love the oversized flowers with this dress
Cute dresses in boucle wools from Karl Lagerfield - the oversized pearls were fabulous and I loved the little handbags in a variety of pop out colours. http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/fashion/ideas/36741/34/chanel-ss14.html#index=12
Besides all that's been going on on the catwalk - Dundee designer Hayley Scanlon has launched her Queen of Hearts diffusion line and it's now available online. You can view it here http://www.hayleyscanlan.com/browse/All_0_0_0.html
I want this skirt!
And this dress - a cross between punk and pop art. She is such a talent.
Weather is right glum today - does mean we get to crack out the rain boots though. Fantasy wardrobe: I'd wear our Patti bag with a leather top from TIBI, Wanda Nylon jain coat, Alice + Olivia skirt, Opening Ceremony Boots, Tomasz Donicik bracelet finished with a flash of neon from this Tom Binns necklace. How you dressing for the weather?
Once a punk always a punk? I can clearly remember the summer of ’77, Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen booming out in Silver Jubilee year. …a bunch of us at a party dressed in black denim, plastic bags (ooh we thought we were sooo Debbie Harry), Dayglo plastic specs and belting out the Stranglers’ Peaches. An exciting time to be a teenager – we so thought we would change the world with our rebellious attitude and our anti-establishment passions…
Fast forward – oh far too many years to mention – and Punk is still around, in fact it seems to be having a resurgence currently, mostly thanks to the New York Met Museum’s exhibition – Punk: Chaos to Couture. But Punk’s longevity is best captured in the quote from David Byrne: “Punk was defined by an attitude rather than a musical style”; and that attitude has stayed with us.
It’s the attitude of the women of the time that I found and still find so inspiring. Patti Smith, Siouxie Sioux, Debbie Harry, Joan Jett and Poly Styrene all served as key inspiration for my new collection of handbags “Riot.” With bags named after these eponymous women of rock I’ve used leather, tartan, tweed and hardwear to create a collection inspired by some of the most stylist and influential women of rock.
A guy walks up to me and asks ‘What’s Punk?’ So I kick over a garbage can and say ‘That’s punk!’ So he kicks over a garbage can and says ‘That’s punk?’ and I say ‘No, that’s trendy!’”
— Billie Joe Armstrong
So the new website is up and running! We hope you like it. We've still to put more images up on the front page but we're having a little shoot next week and they will added soon. The past two weeks have been incredibly busy, sending order here, there and everywhere! Some Munro bags and toiletry bags off to the British Museum
As well as the last of our gorgeous vintage kimono clutches, ready for the new Shunga exhibition taking place in October.
The new McGonagall - so called because it's teamed Harris Tweed with waxed cotton from Halley Stevenson in Dundee and we thought the name was a poetic (sorry!) choice...
... has gone off to the lovely Vintage Hound shop in Winchester along with the Freya Messenger, belts and bow clutches.
Lots of the gents toiletry bags have been sent to France, Germany, Norway, the US and now we're working on a very large order for a wonderful magazine who want to give them as gifts to all their advertising clients!
Some new designs still to come - a new handbag, a new manbag, some more of the ever popular Hepburn range and a few more scarves.... coming soon.
…best to be nicely accessorised. A bit like Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby.
Dashing down the corridor after tipping the contents of her handbag out to stall for time. Costume designer Anthea Sylbert (who also worked with Polanski on Chinatown) gets the period spot on with the little baby doll dresses and sets the tone for Rosemary’s character with her predominant use of white.
You might also want to check out these amazing dolls by Alicia Newman-Breen – here’s her version of Mia Farrow and Ruth Gordon from Rosemary’s Baby:
And just for fun, here’s Rikki Lake and Divine from Hairspray:
Thank you Carimateo for spotting my handbags and posting them on her blog. You can view Carimateo’s designs here:http://sunsetgurldesign.typepad.com/
“Give me classics anytime like these Harris Tweed bags designed by Catherine Aitken. Although I would not at all mind returning to Edinburgh, we don’t have to fly there to purchase her bags. They’re available to buy online…”
The Missoni fabric designs – Bow Clutch and Voyager were recently featured in MODH Magazine:
Bow Clutch in Missoni Fabric. Photograpy by Anna Isola Crolla
Missoni Voyager Clutch Photography Rob McDougall with a Henrietta Ludgatge Dress and Emily Lamb Shoes
IKWIG August 29 2013
Watched the wonderful I Know Where I’m Going this week. We seemed to have the weather for it. Wendy Hiller is wonderful and just as wonderful is her leopardskin clutch that Roger Livesay seems to be making a grab for in this shot!
So – after whiling away a lazy afternoon watching I Know Where I’m Going last week, this week I went out with a chum to see the Bob Marley documentary directed by Kevin Macdonald – coincidently, he’s Pressburger’s grandson – so it was kind of keeping it in the family with the two films. Marley is a fascinating documentary, a real insight into Bob Marley’s life, his family, his dreams, his music. With footage never seen before and permission from Marley’s family to use it, interviews with his various wives, girlfriends, children and many people who worked with him – Kevin tells the story of an extraordinary man and musician who sadly died so young – just 36. Definitely recommended viewing!
And to top that – if it’s possible. One of the trailers preceding Marley was for Wes Anderson’s new film Moonrise Kingdom. What a delight this films looks to be and I can’t wait to see it. There’s a brilliant cast: Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Frances McDorman and Bruce Willis…. but it isn’t just the cast that’s so intriguing – it’s the production design of the film and the wonderful props! At the end of the trailer is this shot:
I just love this little tartan bag at the right hand side. I had to know if it was vintage or retro, so that I might be able to buy one so I got googling. A few emails later the Props Master of the film, Sandy Hamilton, kindly got back and told me it was vintage and in the spirit of a Scottish boy’s school bag. You can view the whole trailer here:
Be prepared for a visual delight! Can’t see any reviews yet but I will be there as soon as it’s opened for sure.
What do you think of the new Galaxy ad? At first I thought it was a look-alike but it turns out it’s original footage of Ms Hepburn that’s been CGI’d. I like the ad, think it’s good fun – and her family obviously licensed the use of the footage. Nice squidgy little handbag anyway – perfect for posing your co-ordinating chocolate!
I wonder what Audrey would have thought of it all? Here’s an appropriate quote from the lady herself: