Glenalmond Tweed Company

Andrew and Sally St. John visited the Outer Hebrides in 1981 en route to St. Kilda and were completely bowled over by the rugged beauty of the windswept, rocky, islands. They drove along the ‘Golden Road’ on Harris meeting enchanting and hospitable weavers of probably the world’s most famous fabric – Harris Tweed.

This beautiful material is, to this day, hand woven in the Outer Hebrides, imparting to the outside world the islanders’ extraordinary sense of colour and design. A weaver, when asked where she found the inspiration for her designs, replied: “I look out of the window”.

Unexpectedly, the St. Johns found they had time to spare on St. Kilda as the boat that had brought them over, the Golden Chance, sank in Village Bay during one of the worst storms ever witnessed, even on that mid Atlantic archipelago. They were stranded on the island waiting for questions to be answered in the House of Commons regarding the number of lavatories required on any fishing boat that might be prepared to rescue them. This suited them fine. They wiled away the time exploring St . Kilda and its abundant wildlife. While being bombed by bonxies (Great Skuas), the idea of creating a business to promote Harris Tweed was born.

The possibility of the European Community withdrawing their enormous largesse from the farming fraternity focussed their minds and in 1992 the Glenalmond Tweed Company was launched. Without the faintest idea of how the world of fashion worked, they set out for SEHM, an international Trade Fair in Paris, with a collection of Harris Tweed bags and hats. It was certainly a change from feeding livestock in a snowbound Perthshire in January!

Glenalmond has come a long way since those heady days. Their products have been sold all over the world in many of the world’s most prestigious stores. They have presented collections designed by guest designers, including the celebrated Japanese designer Michiko Koshino and Antony Price. Today the company has a website and a mail order business, as well as a shop on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and a showroom in a converted cattle shed in the Sma’ Glen, one of the prettiest parts of the Central Highlands.

If you are travelling North up the A9 you can make a pleasant diversion via Crieff to Drummond Castle & Gardens, not to mention Cultoquhey, the Scottish home of the Maxtone Graham family where Jan Struther, aka Mrs. Miniver herself, spent summer holidays with her husband and family (it is now a hotel). You are welcome to stretch your legs, walk the dog and browse through the collection of Harris Tweed, for sale by the metre, the bags, clothes and the ever-growing collection of dog cushions.

— Andrew St. John

Glenalmond Tweed

The Shop
12 High Street
Royal Mile
Edinburgh EH1 1TB

The Showroom
Perth PH1 3SN





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