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Tweed has a bit of a reputation. It took off as sportswear in a century when sports meant hunting, shooting and fishing. The Englishmen and Scots who first popularized it needed serious protection from the elements; the tweed sport coat or shooting jacket was a functional garment and its heavy, scratchy wool was the 19th-century equivalent of Gore-Tex.
Add to that history the predilection for tweed jackets among country gentleman types—and anyone keen to be taken for one—and it’s easy to see why the fabric is sometimes considered a bit fusty and uncomfortable by those outside the shooting crowd and the professoriate.
But today, that old reputation is undeserved. No longer burdened with protecting their customers from frostbite, weavers have moved towards finer, lighter and more luxurious cloths. Today’s tweeds are prized more for color and some of the most interesting pieces depart from the classic country sport coat or heavy overcoat.
Victor Besnard, who operates his family’s tailoring house dating back to 1876, is using a storied Yorkshire tweed this season for a new purpose. “I was looking to create an in-between coat, that could be worn casually and would pair well with tailoring,” Besnard tells Robb Report. “I loved the details and comfort of an unlined safari jacket, and when I came across these beautiful tweeds by Abraham Moon, I decided to combine the two.” As he notes, it’s not a total departure from tradition so much as an evolution: The safari borrows details from the shooting jacket, just as his design borrows the classic cloth.
The same trend can be seen from a range of makers, from innovative tailors to forward-thinking designers, offering a diverse range of tweed outwear and accessories—even home furnishings. Here are 11 ways to enjoy tweed beyond the traditional tailored jacket.