The Harris Tweed Authority are to appoint an “ambassador” in Japan whose remit will
include policing the improper use of the famous Orb trademark.
The move reflects increasing concern that the brand’s success is being diluted through
the use of Orb labels on products which do not contain enough of the hand-woven fabric
to justify their identification with Harris Tweed.
Lorna MacAulay, chief executive of the Harris Tweed Authority, said: “Japan is an
extremely important market for our industry and we have had to take action on a number
of occasions in recent years against the misuse of the trademark.
“We have even had to deal with the forgery of labels which were then being sold for
use on products that had no connection to genuine Harris Tweed.
“This is a very difficult problem to address at long range and we feel that the presence
of an HTA representative on the ground, picking up on these cases quickly, could
have a positive effect.”
Stamping out abuse of Harris Tweed trademark
11 January 2017
She said that the HTA ambassador would also support the general promotion of the
fabric as a luxury product, stressing the provenance and craftsmanship that have
contributed to its popularity in Japan.
Ms MacAulay said they would continue to work closely with the British Embassy in
Tokyo which has been consistently supportive of efforts to promote Harris Tweed and
to prevent misuse of the Orb – the oldest British trademark in continuous use.
The move was welcomed by Brian Wilson, former UK Trade Minister, who now chairs Harris
Tweed Hebrides, the biggest produce of the fabric.
He said: “In a sense, it is a compliment to the success of the brand that there are
so many attempts to latch onto its name and reputation.
“However, there is no doubt about the danger of the brand being devalued and it can
only be helpful to have someone who really knows the Japanese market working there
on the industry’s behalf.”