The tweed jacket has come a long way since the boxy masculine version of the 1980s or the buttoned down prim varietal of the 1940s. There are countless versions now in innummerable styles – the drape front, the double-breasted, the cropped, the asymmetrical and so on.
But you can’t even mention the word tweed without referencing its icon, whose very reputation is synonymous with the fabric itself. That of course would be the upstanding and very legendary Coco Chanel.
Chanel’s use of the now legendary fabric was not only inspired by menswear, but by a man – and a Duke specifically. It was said that after borrowing a jacket from her beau – The Duke of Westminster – Chanel realized that the comfortable, pliant fabric would lend itself well to her designs. And indeed it did. The trend spread like wildfire and became popular in Parisian couture houses, amongst socialities and the cultural elite and later amongst the masses.
Madame Chanel switched factories in the 1930s to Northern France and began combining her classic tweeds with wools, silks, cotton and even cellophane to give them a more high fashion and lighterweight style. The style is timeless and still quite illustrious. Chanel tweed is to this day very costly to make and also to attain.
“The tweed is made by weaving the warp and weft, using a variety of different kinds of threads which creates a unique and somewhat irregular appearance. The warp – vertically strung – is the background of the fabric, the base that will support the assembly of materials. There can be up to 12 different threads used for a single warp. The weft – woven horizontally – gives the fabric its unique character and can have an unlimited number of threads. Tight, perforated, textured, thick, with a relief, plaited, random, twill… the potential number of effects is endless.”
– House of Chanel