Page last updated at 19:04 GMT, Saturday, 27 March 2010

Doctor Who's Harris Tweed helps revive island industry

Matt Smith and Karen Gillan
Matt Smith's vintage jacket is made of 1960's Harris Tweed

Makers of the Harris Tweed have been overwhelmed by the level of interest in their "timeless" cloth by fans of the cult television show Doctor Who.

Matt Smith, the 11th doctor, will wear a traditional Hebridean hand-woven jacket in the new series.

Since the outfit was revealed in July, interest in the fabric has risen.

David Reid, a director of Harris Tweed Textile Manufacturing Ltd, said the choice had created a "massive opportunity" for the industry.

Smith's jacket is a vintage 1960's piece made of genuine Harris Tweed. The particular weave is now set to be revived and is likely to be marketed to Doctor Who fans after the new series, which begins in April.

'Magical' cloth

Mr Reid said tweed manufacturing, the biggest private sector employer in the Hebrides, had been struggling in recent years.

"We've been deliberately trying to market Harris Tweeds appeal to younger people and in one fell swoop we've seen this," he said.

"We're absolutely delighted to be associated with Doctor Who in this way."

Mr Reid said the "magical" cloth was ideal for the Time Lord because it had "romance and spiritualism" running through it.

The endorsement by Dr Who shows that Harris Tweed is timeless and can be worn anytime, at any age and in any galaxy
MP Angus MacNeil

He said his company, which employs about 20 people on the Isle of Lewis and works with about 50 weavers, was creating new, lighter, softer cloths in response to the recent interest to appeal to younger people and women.

Islanders hoped to see an influx of visitors wanting to see where the tweed was made, he added.

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil said: "This exposure represents a serious opportunity for Harris Tweed.

"A marketing campaign to generate equivalent interest would cost millions of pounds, there is a strong chance that we need to be ready for a dramatic rise in orders."

He added: "The endorsement by Dr Who shows that Harris Tweed is timeless and can be worn anytime, at any age and in any galaxy."

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