Walker Slater on Sustainability
Weaved to wow and crafted to last, Walker Slater proves that the charm of tweed extends far beyond its humble country origins
How does the concept of sustainability feed into Walker Slater’s overarching philosophy? What does it mean to the brand?
Sustainability is inherent to the brand. Our aim has always been to make quality garments using fabrics practically synonymous with Scotland. Both tweed and wool have a strong heritage and undeniable link to the land. It is also, by its very nature, 100% biodegradable.
Our in-store teams are also trained to encourage customers to have tailoring correctly carried out and to give advice on building a wardrobe of key staples which will last and are able to be used to build multi-functional looks.
Can you talk us through a few of the materials’ more sustainable credentials?
Due to the toughness of the material, it really stands the test of time, takes very little effort to clean and therefore ends up being a very wise investment for those looking for a great quality statement piece for their wardrobe.
The majority of Walker Slater cloths are sourced locally in Scotland and are 100% wool, which is great in terms of moisture and water resistance, plus it keeps the wind out and the heat in through its natural make-up.
Tweed has a real history of hardiness. How do you look to honour that whilst also offering something new?
Historically speaking, Tweed was workwear for the gamekeepers and groundsmen on estates. It needed to be identifiable, practical and long lasting. Its moisture resistance and durability made it the perfect material for those that worked outdoors too – protecting them from the harsh weather elements.
Walker Slater has some traditional patterns and weights of cloth, but the majority of our most popular pieces are reinterpretations. Our designers have worked closely with mills to create lighter weight options and luxury blends such as adding 10% cashmere or some silk. All of these fibres are sustainable and fairly long lasting.
How does Tweed evolve over time?
Tweed garments are often passed down through generations on account of their toughness and longevity. The more it’s worn, the better it looks. As Tweed is designed to withstand harsh weather conditions there’s very little that can actually ruin it – hence the reason why so many vintage clothing pieces happen to be tweed garments. They’re not just timeless, they’re tough as nails.
How easy is it to repair a Tweed garment after a couple of years of use and abuse?
The tailors we work with offer excellent ‘invisible mending’. If the hole is pretty small, this can be done by hand using yarns from the cloth itself. For bigger holes, a piece of similarly-coloured cloth can be inserted behind the cloth and then a machine stitch can be worked over it to hold in place and blend the two cloths together. This type of mending is widely available at local tailors and is pretty inexpensive.
For those new to dabbling in tweed, what is your advice for getting started? How would you work it into your wardrobe?
Tweed is often seen as dressy, but the truth is that it’s a surprisingly versatile fabric. I’ll often pair a Tweed jacket or waistcoat with jeans for a more casual look. Layering and experimenting with how products can be worn in different ways is exciting and opens the door to a few different styles, too. For those just looking to dip their toe, so to speak, we’ve got a range of accessories including tote bags, caps and flasks. We make them using the offcuts and ends of cloth to limit wastage.
And finally, what is your own advice for working toward a more sustainable wardrobe?
‘Buy better, but buy less’ is the phrase that we are all using, but it’s so true. Understanding materials – appreciating how they are to be treated and how they age helps with that buying better strategy.
Affordability can be seen as an issue at first. But when it’s stacked up against the possibility of having to rebuy something because it’s fallen apart, it puts things into perspective. Cheaper, more poorly-made items will very quickly show their limits and shortcomings. Walker Slater goods come at a higher price, but they’re built to go the distance.