COCO + THE HISTORY OF CHANEL TWEED
Tweed is a classic fabric and one of my personal favorites. Many know of the iconic fabric, but only few know if its origin. Although the luxe fabric is synonymous with Coco Chanel, it didn’t originate with the fashion house. The vintage Chanel jacket (in tweed, of course), one of the most classic (and long-lasting!) pieces in fashion history, was first designed by Coco Chanel. However, tweed was originated long before then (the 18th century to be exact) in Scotland. The fabric was originated when Scottish weavers set out to create a denser option, perfect for outerwear. The result was a new woven, twill fabric. The name tweed originated when a London merchant misread the handwriting of “tweel” (the Scottish version of “twill”) confusing it with “tweed.”
Traditionally used for upper class country clothing like shooting jackets, the cloth became associated with leisurely pursuits of the elite. In fact, Coco Chanel’s inspiration came from menswear. Chanel was inspired after borrowing her beau’s, the Duke of Westminster, sportswear. She was drawn to the sophistication of the fabric and in 1924, Chanel enlisted a Scottish factory to produce her iconic tweed fabrics. In the 1930s, Chanel switched to a factory in northern France and began experimenting with incorporating new fabrics like wool and silk into her tweed designs. Chanel structured her jacket to fit more like a cardigan and less restrictive than other fashion available to women at the time.
In the 50s and 60s, Chanel reintroduced the Chanel jacket in pastel colors and quickly became a status symbol of the British aristocracy. It also quickly became a staple for the upwardly mobile American female when it was worn by fashion icon, Jaqueline Kennedy. Jackie O wore her Chanel pink suit several times during JFK’s presidency and also during his assassination. The suit is the most referenced and revisited of all the items in her closet and has become her trademark. Even today, Chanel tweed is a favorite of fashionistas everywhere. Retailers and designers have even offered their own tweed options to those wanting the polish look without the hefty price tag.