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Threading a Warp

During 1993, Robin Deas was concerned by the low outlook in the Border town of Hawick. Like many small industrial towns, Hawick’s textile industry and retail High Street were under pressure; industry by the continuing onslaught of Far Eastern competition, and local retail from supermarket growth and the threat of a retail park on the edge of town. And although this was a nationwide issue, the affect it was having on Hawick was clear for all in the community to see and feel.

It was then that Robin had an idea that if he could design a tartan, incorporating colours symbolic of the towns own story, it might just give a new dimension for both industry and retail, creating products that locals and visitors would like to buy. With the town’s colourful history woven into its fabric, this bright tartan would be attractive to all.

the place the people the plaid

 the people the plaid

“My heart is interwoven with the fabric of this old mill town”

- David Finnie -


Weaving a Weft

So with the help of his friend Ken Hood, a retired aeronautics engineer who had returned home to Hawick, Robin was able to take his on-paper designs a step further, with Ken producing computer aided design images of the various colour options. These were then presented to fellow Teri (person born in Hawick) Andrew Elliot, of Elliot Fine Fabrics in Selkirk, who upon sifting through the design options stopped dead at one particular colourway, and stated “I see the Hawick Tartan!”.

Andrew agreed to put the design into production, but since his machines were set to handle only six colours, this new seven colour tartan would be a challenge. However, with the experience of master craftsmen, Andrew had the first piece of Hawick Tartan cloth on his looms in a matter of days, and the first district, seven coloured, tartan was born. Production began on rugs, scarves, kilt, jacket and skirting cloths, along with finer fabrics for neck ties, bow ties and many other small items, suitable for gifts.

The 7 colours of The Hawick Tartan each depict a piece of Hawicks historical or current day attributes, this fabric tells the proud story of the town and its people. These colours are Royal Blue & Gold from the 1514 flag; Field Green of Hawick Rugby Club; Navy & White for Hawick High School; Red to represent the bloody Battle of Flodden in 1513; and the Dark Green base of the Douglas Tartan to recognise the towns historical connection with the clan.

The Fabric of a Town

Then in 1996 it was agreed to present the town with this unique tartan. With the Scottish Tartan Authority, with whom it was registered, Roxburgh District Council and many local dignitaries all in attendance, the tartan was handed over at a civil ceremony in Hawick Town Hall.

At this time Robin, who was heavily involved in his own textile business and very active in Hawick Chamber of Trade, handed the reigns over to his business partner Ken Hood, who took the Hawick Tartan Company forward. However, although Robin and Andrew were still directors of the company, the Hawick Tartan had been registered and patented in Kens name, therefore after his death in early 2000, the ownership of the tartan was handed down to Kens family, who after several years managed to sell all remaining cloth and products, but with no direct interest in the tartan, they decided to let the patent go and discontinue the tartan.

Re-launching the Shuttle

Some years later, towards the end of 2016 Robin retired, having completed some 59 years in the textile industry. But with his heart still draped in textiles and feeling the tug of a town working hard to regenerate itself, he cast his mind back 23 years to his original design sketches, and realised that now was the time to bring back this beautiful and modern town tartan. So in early 2017, together with old industry friend James Sugden OBE, Robin decided to re-launch the Hawick Tartan.

Once again working with Elliot Fine Fabrics in the Scottish Borders town of Selkirk, which is now run by Andrew’s son Robin Elliot, along with other local manufacturers, the Hawick tartan rugs, scarves and ties are back in production, with cloth for kilts and other fabrics planned for the near future.

This is now a very exciting time for the Tartan with many opportunities opening up, including many well established local retailers stocking the Hawick Tartan products, and with the backing of The Bill McLaren Foundation, we have the honour of being able to offer our scarves with the foundations logo embroidered on them.

Watch this space to see how the The Hawick Tartan weaves its way through its historic border town, and to Teri’s and tartan lovers all over the world. Why not get yourself a piece of Hawick Tartan, and be a part of the story!