When Aeneas MacKay, a 60-year old farmer, took over Ardalanish 15 years ago and reduced the commercial farming operation from several hundred to just 200 native sheep, he watched as wildlife returned—first it was native trees, then the red deer and insects. More recently, a new species began to appear on the island—fashion designers, in search of Ardalanish's farmstead-woven organic wool tweeds. The wool from the Scottish isle's special breed of Hebridean sheep has quite literally woven the lives of young designers like Anja together with Ardalanish's community.
Ekovaruhuset is Swedish for "House of Organic," a little white-walled cave of a boutique in Stockholm's medieval quarter. I half-expected fashion designer Anja Hynynen to fly away when I met her there—it seemed only the little clog sandals on her stocking feet kept her weighted to the ground. She flitted about the shop's caverns, pulling her handmade frocks and jackets from hangers to show me the materials—a flax-colored knit linen dress here, a detail stitched with orange crottle-dyed wool there. But none was as special as her organic wool tweed from Ardalanish Farm, on the Isle of Mull, off Scotland’s west coast.