Tonight, the final programme in the series on Harris Tweed was aired on BBC4. The outlook remained at best a questionmark, and not much short of gloomy. Rather than get hot under the collar, I'll restrict myself to putting down the way I think the industry should move forward - a purely personal take, not unduly burdened by excess knowledge.
Harris Tweed is a product, unique to the Outer Hebrides, and therefore unique to Scotland. Its production, as laid down by the trademark description, has to take place in the Outer Hebrides - exclusively. This is such a narrow remit, that it merits intervention at Government level (Scottish Government) to take the industry in hand.
Brian Haggas's ownership of the Kenneth Mackenzie Mill in Stornoway should be bought out. He has a stock of men's jackets, which he is pandering off through newspaper competitions, saucy photoshoots and what not. At the rate he is going, it'll take nearly a decade to shift the 70,000 jackets that clog up his warehouse. The KM Mill's production capacity is needed, in conjunction with that of Shawbost and Carloway's mills, to make the volume, necessary to reinvigorate Harris Tweed. Rather than being in competition with each other, Stornoway, Shawbost and Carloway should work under an overseeing body which directs the work of the mills.
The BBC4 programme showed that there is demand for Harris Tweed. This should be channeled to be produced in the Outer Hebrides, using the abovementioned overseeing body. Who should this overseeing body consist of? Weavers as well as mills, combined with the Harris Tweed Authority. A cooperative? Well, I don't know enough about that sort of thing.
I'll repeat what I said at the end of my previous post on this subject. The Kenneth Mackenzie Mill in Stornoway is the keystone to Harris Tweed. Without this, the cloth will be relegated to handbags and seatcovers. And Brian Haggas's jackets.