Renfrewshire Council

Paisley Pattern could follow Harris Tweed success

Paisley's bid for UK City of Culture 2021 is all about making the most out of our internationally-significant heritage and cultural assets - and the Paisley Pattern sits close to the top of that list. Not many places are fortunate enough to have a globally-recognised brand carrying their name, but the bid is an opportunity to look at new ways to make the most of that iconic imagery.

With that in mind, I visited the Western Isles on a fact-finding mission as part of a Renfrewshire delegation to study how Harris Tweed is produced and marketed - and to see whether there is anything from their model we can apply to the Paisley Pattern.

Harris Tweed is a real international success story we can learn from - it is exported to more than 50 countries, is used by elite fashion houses and designers, and is one of the biggest sources of employment on the islands.

Our visit is building upon a fascinating historic link between the islands and our town - when two female islanders came south to be trained by Paisley weavers in 1840, which helped to establish Harris Tweed in the first place. Now we want to learn from the legacy our town helped create and how Paisley and its unique textile heritage could emulate the global success of Harris Tweed.

As well as meeting senior officials at the Harris Tweed Association, the body which - under an Act of Parliament - oversees the manufacture of, and issues the official seal of approval to, all products sold as Harris Tweed, I also spent time with management at Harris Tweed Hebrides, the island's main producer of the cloth, and senior colleagues at Western Isles Council.

And I even got the chance to visit the site of the new Museum nan Eilean in Stornoway, which has parallels with the £56.7m proposals unveiled last year to transform Paisley Museum into an international-class destination based around textiles.

Paisley has so much potential and I am excited to see how it transforms through Paisley's culture bid and the implementation of the council's ambitious regeneration plans.