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Issue 67 - Weaving History

Scotland Magazine Issue 67
February 2013


This article is 5 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Weaving History

Sally Toms picks 10 of the best tartan retailers

13 Calendar Riggs, Falkirk, FK1 1UZ
el: +44 (0)1324 624 588

This Falkirk shop has been tailoring bespoke Scottish outfits since 1946. Designer Andrew Brookes, who took over from his father Albert Brookes nearly 30 years ago, is tailor and with a deft hand will cut kilt suits, hacking jackets, three piece tweed suits, bespoke trousers, trews, plus twos and avant-garde jacketing to order.

We love his ‘whisky kilt’, an innovative take on a classic. the front of the kilt is made using a large set showing the components of how the whisky was born, the water, barley and distilling process; on the back, every pleat has one of the top 20 Scottish distilleries in writing running down the kilt.

House of Tartan
Davidson House, Drummond Street, Comrie, Crieff, Perthshire, PH6 2DW
el: +44 (0)1764 679 000

Established in 1994, House of Tartan is the proud home of the world’s first tartan database, generating tartan images from a database of more than 3000 patterns. If you can’t find the exact tartan you want, the website is also home to a nifty design software package, which lets you create your very own custom tartan and then order it in as many kilts, cushions and cufflinks as you so desire.

So confident are they at House of Tartan that they can fulfil your every tartan whim, they say if they can’t help, what you want is probably not to be found. We like the extensive hat selection for him and her.

21st Century Kilts
48 Thistle Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1EN
Tel: +44 (0)7774 757 222

Since designer Howie Nicholsby launched his unique kilts at London Fashion Week in 1999, the world has never been the same. 21st Century Kilts offers bespoke tailoring as well as affordable offthe- peg kilts in contemporary fabrics. It’s tartan, Jim, but not as we know it: leather, linen, denim and tweeds. Always fancied a stylish pinstripe kilt for the office? This is the place.

Alright, it’s not a tartan, but we just love the Harris Tweed kilt with detachable pockets.

Pioneered by Howie, these are a great, casual alternative to a sporran for carrying your essentials and lift the kilt from the realm of the formal and turn it into a practical piece of everyday-wear.
The Office, Duns, Berwickshire, TD11 3JA
Tel: +44 (0)1890 860 770

From a tailored tartan suit to kilts, skirts and accessories, will proudly create any item in any tartan for men, women, children or the home, and ship it to you around the world.

As well as traditional kilts, suits, scarves, ties and rugs, you can find gorgeous tartan fabric and ribbon by the metre along with cushions, throws and tableware that will make any Burns Night or St Andrews Day celebration truly special. There’s also a great selection of ladies clothing, including hats, gloves and tartan shoes! We love their 50s style tartan shift dress, made to measure in a fabulous choice of tartans. Have a look, too, for the Help for Heroes tartan collection, which is not only gorgeous to look at but also helps raise money for a very worth cause.

Houston Traditional Kiltmakers
67 High Street, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, PA1 2AY
Tel: +44 (0)141 889 4879

Houston Traditional Kiltmakers is the only kilt shop in the world where you can see every commercially produced tartan. This family run Highland wear outfitters has been in the business for more than 100 years, and offers one of the very best range of clothing, advice and service anywhere in the country. You’ll find no cushions or key chains here, thank you very much. These are kilts of the finest quality, with some customers flying in to nearby Glasgow airport purely to get fitted. If that’s not your style, a worldwide mail order service is also available, and Houston’s offer tax free shopping to all customers outside the EU.

We love the My Tartan design app, available to download for free from the Apple store, which lets you design a bespoke tartan and order it in a kilt before you can say Donald, where’s your troosers?

DC Dalgleish
Dunsdale Mill, Selkirk, TD7 5EB
Tel: +44 (0)1750 20781

Purveyors of fine fabric since 1947, and one of the last traditional tartan producers in the country. DC Dalgleish maintain that is impossible to produce authentic traditional quality tartan on anything other than a traditional shuttle loom. Unlike high speed or rapier looms found in factories, these machines (some of which are nearly 100 years old) pass a wooden ‘flying shuttle’ backwards and forwards. These looms are much slower, but give the cloth a natural edge (or ‘selvedge’) that needs no hem, all because the weft never needs to be cut. The result is a more densely woven and extremely durable fabric, with a superfine finish: only the best and most expensive kilts have selvedge.

DC Dalgleish specialise in two main tartan ranges; lightweight, competition grade Dress Tartans, and their historic Reproduction Tartans.

Kinloch Anderson
4 Dock Street, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6EY
Tel: +44 (0)131 555 1390

Synonymous with quality and tradition since 1868, this family owned business –now into its sixth generation – is the proud holder of three Royal Warrants of Appointment as Tailors and Kiltmakers to Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

King Edward VII was the first British monarch to dress in a Kinloch kilt in 1903, and in the beginning of the 20th century, the company became well known for its military garments and tailored officers’ uniforms for all Scottish Regiments. Since then the company has expanded to offer many different styles of clothing for men and women, as well as accessories and gifts. Last year, Kinloch Anderson launched a Highland dress store at Brooks Brothers in Madison Avenue, New York, as well as another store in China.

Geoffrey (Tailor) Kiltmakers
7-61 High Street, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 1SR
Tel: +44 (0)131 557 0256

Among all the traditional shops on Edinburgh's historic Royal Mile, Geoffrey (Tailor) Kiltmakers stands head and shoulders above the rest. The business is very much a family affair and for 40 years has carved out a reputation as one of the country’s leading kiltmakers.

Kilts are tailored by highly skilled weavers in the company's own workshops in Edinburgh and Oban, and garments sold online and at three stores in Scotland. The company also holds monthly fittings in London and at regular festivals across the United States.

Geoffrey (Tailor) lays claim to its own historic weaving mill (at 555 Castlehill) which presents the history of Highland Dress including real-live high speed powerlooms in action, as well as the opportunity to create your own tartan.

119 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4JN
Tel: +44 (0)131 225 9096

Founded in the Highlands 25 years ago by designer Annie Stewart and architect husband Lachlan, Anta blends seductive colour with beautiful material, dyed and hand woven in Scotland. Anta fabrics subtly blend together heather, grey, sage and ochre, drawing inspiration from the Scottish landscape itself. Kilts and ties for men, mini skirts, jackets and scarves for women, plus a myriad soft furnishings, from cushions and throws, to the most beautiful fitted tartan carpets.

Technically, if it’s a pattern not related to a family name or a place, then it’s a check not a tartans. We love the tartan painted stoneware: mugs, plates, bowls and baking dishes.

Highland House of Fraser
4-9 Huntly Street, Inverness, IV3 5PR
Tel: +44 (0)1463 222 781

From a workshop on the banks of the River Ness, Highland House of Fraser has been making kilts in the same way for more than 50 years. Each kilt is made to measure and entirely hand sewn by traditional craftsmen and women, with approximately 10 stitches to the inch.

The workshop itself is housed within The Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre, where you can learn all about Scotland’s national dress, as well as watch a demonstration of a kilt being made.

In the store, kilts, fabric, accessories, and an extensive range of gifts is available, as well as a rental service, if you just want to borrow one for the day.

Three more retailers

Piob Mhor of Scotland Ltd
39-43 High Street, Blairgowrie, Perthshire, PH10 6DA
Fax: + 44 ( 0 ) 1250 87 3649

Located in the 'Heart of Perthshire', on the route to historic Dunkeld and Royal Deeside, Piob Mhor of Scotland offers a wide selection of traditional Highland Dress Wear.

Highland Kilt Company
St. Louis, MO
el: + 1-715-966-2188

The Highland Kilt company offers affordable kilt packages, sporrans and accessories to help you look the part.

In addition to a reasonably prices $89 Kilt Package, the company also offers an outstanding line of Sporrans, Scottish T Shirts, Kilt Belts and Buckles, Kilt Pins, Ghillie Shirts, and more!

The Highland Kilt Company pride themselves on excellent customer service, kilts of the highest quality, and reliable shipping times.

The Celtic Croft
8311 Westwood Rd, Brooklyn Park, MN 55444
Tel: +1 763 569 4373

The Celtic Croft has a complete line of kilts and tartans to fit any period or budget. The Croft offers six different kilt styles to choose from, from ancient kilts to canvas kilts and economy kilts. Whether you're looking for a "Braveheart" kilt, a classic great kilt, or a casual kilt, they've got a kilt for you.

The company also carries a beautiful selection of tartan fabrics, tartan sashes, tartan scarves, tartan blankets and much more for the home.