Linton Tweed and Chanel

Some History of Linton Tweed and Co Co Chanel

William Linton and Coco Chanel are linked with Leslie Walker, and now his sons, carrying forward Linton Tweed into the future.

In 1838 there were five mills in Selkirk and a population of 3,800 and the five mills employed 770 workers with an annual wage bill of £22,000.

As demand for woven textiles arose new types of machinery were crucial for solving technical problems. In 1842 the ‘Scottish Feed’ came about reducing the wool into a viable thread.

linton tweed samples

The Selkirk Trade established an international reputation for quality, with tweed popular in Europe and Russia as well as America. Many Factors were to account for the rise in demand including the expansion of the railways where the fashion-conscious wanted tweed for travelling coats and suits as well as sports clothes from woollen cloth.

By 1902 fancy weaves perhaps with silk decoration pioneered in Selkirk were in demand. These expensive cloths were popular with the rich and fashionable in Europe at the fashionable end of the market.

In 1909 Coco Chanel was making hats from 160 Boulevard Malashesbes. She needed to know how to block and steam her creations. By 1910 they needed more space and she bought the now worldwide, well-known, 21 Rue Gambon known as Chanel Modes. By 1911 she was making clothes, Fashioned in perfect proportion and beautifully crafted. Her designs were worn on stage and in magazines and at the Royallieu House parties.

To branch out Coco needed textiles using flannel and fine knit jersey materials more in common with men’s clothing than women’s. She made dresses that skimmed the body offering greater freedom – corsets not required. She was also one of the first Parisian Couture houses to set up in London in Beauchamp Place.

By 1921 William Linton was selling LintonTweed to the USA to New York City Garment District and it was booming. At the same time, the now-popular Singer sewing machine made New York the centre of ready-to-wear.

One clothes designer that was everything English was Captain Edward Molyneux. Between 1925 and 1932 he had branches in Monte Carlo, Biarritz and Cannes and had opened a house in London. It is likely that during these years he met Coco Chanel who by 1925 was a friend of the Duke of Westminster. Captain Molyneau was also a friend of William Linton. It seems that by 1928 Coco was introduced to William Linton. She used Linton Tweeds for the first time in her collection and it has been used in every collection since – more than 80 years.

Barbara Keen 2023 edited from Patricia Hitchon’s book
Credit to: Chanel and the Tweed Maker, Author Patricia Hitchon
Images are from the book with the publisher’s permission.

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