A Fine Man Once Said:

"Part of the 10 million I spent on gambling, part of it on booze, and part of it on women. The rest I spent foolishly."

- George Raft

Thursday, April 25, 2013

8 Days in Scotland: Day Trip 2 -The Cashmere Heritage Centre at Johnstons of Elgin

Just one of the stunningly beautiful buildings on the Johnstons of Elgin property.

Being so close to the town of Elgin, we decided that our second day trip would be up to the Johnstons of Elgin factory. Our ambitious itinerary included a tour of the factory, a visit to the cashmere heritage centre, shopping at the factory store, with lunch at the coffee shop on the premises thrown in somewhere for good measure. Somehow, we managed to fit everything into one long afternoon!

This post will be part one of the cashmere heritage centre - our first stop of the day. I'll follow up in the next few days with a second post with more images from the cashmere heritage centre, followed by one or two separate posts on our tour of the Johnstons of Elgin's factory. As always, I do apologize in advance for my lack of any real photography skills . . .

One of several cashmere glove/hat/scarf combinations on display at the cashmere heritage centre.

To state the obvious, the process of turning cashmere into a luxury product actually begins in Mongolia, where the raw material is combed by hand from the downy undercoat of the rare Cashmere goat. From there, the fibre is shipped to the Johnstons of Elgin mill, on the banks of the river Lossie. The company has occupied the same site since 1797, where the cashmere is dyed, teased, carded, spun and hand-finished by the latest generation of Elgin craftsmen. While the facilities now sit on 20 acres, employs 790 people, and utilizes some of the most advanced textile equipment in the world, the basic production process has changed very little since the company's founding.

As is to be expected, the heritage centre focuses on much of this history. In addition to the myriad items on display highlighting the Johnstons of Elgin's work with fabrics such as merino wool, camel hair, and vicuna, visitors to the centre are actually able to get a feel for the physical differences of each fabric.

There are also vintage pieces on display, with some dating as far as back as the 1920s. This tweed jacket on display was made in 1927 by the well-regarded Savile Row tailors Tautz & Co.

The placard reads:

I was also stunned by the sheer volume of estate tweeds on display along one wall of the heritage centre. There must have been hundreds of swatches available to choose from in these books.

To be continued . . .

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