The other day while browsing through blogs I came across about half a dozen pictures (on JakandJil.com) of dudes dressed in tweed blazers, most of them on bikes. Upon further inspection, I noticed a logo’ed cuff around one of their ankles that read: “The Tweed Run: Tokyo.” I was intrigued so I investigated further and discovered that this is a real event that happens yearly and not only in Tokyo (this was the first of its kind in the city) but also in London, where the concept was born, New York, and many other cities around the world. And though it is called the Tweed Run it is actually a bike race, more specifically a bike race with a dress code that requires a tweed blazer and a pair of plus fours (pants that only reach four inches below the knee).
With origins in London’s Tweed Cycling Club, which gained news media attention in 2007, the “run" itself is championed by Ted Young–Ing and Jaqui Shannon who thought it would be a wonderful way to meld their love for tweed and bikes launching the inaugural race on January 24th, 2009 in London. True to the culture and period from which the material originates, every tweed race wraps just in time for tea where awards are divvied up. In the past, Tweed has often been associated with exclusivity or the idea of a gentlemen’s shooting club, and this members-only notion has been passed onto the race, which is limited to only 500 participants.
Fun fact: The run’s first attempt in New York City last year was sponsored by Ralph Lauren Polo, but was cut short by due to protesting during the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Tweed was originally called tweel a Scottish form of twill. It is a rough unfinished wool material that is usually spun in a weave or herringbone pattern and is the perfect safeguard against the damp, cool weather of the region. The name was accidently changed to tweed because an English merchant got the spelling wrong and thought it was named after the Tweed river that runs through Scotland’s textile district. The two major types of tweed: Harris, which is produced in Scotland, and Donegal produced in Northern Ireland.
Tokyo retailer "Beams" has just released some cool updated-Harris Tweed items for the fall that would be perfect for participating in a Tweed Run. Here are some of my favorite looks from the collection: