History in Clothing

By Ryan Gilbert

Imagine being able to recognize a distant family member just by the outfit they had on. You may have never even met them before, but because of a pattern on some cloth, you have a strong connection instantly. Scotland has been following this custom for years with their use of the Tartan. A Tartan is a design used by families or corporations to represent membership, and no matter the colors, they are always worn with pride. Kinloch Anderson has been the expert in traditional Scottish dress for the last One Hundred and Fifty years. Six generations of men and women have supplied royalty, celebrities, and even regular people with an outfit to be proud of.

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We were lucky enough to be given a presentation by Deirdre Kinloch Anderson, who was so passionate about tartan she got the rest of our group excited too. Deirdre explained how tartan and kilts have developed culturally, not out of necessity. What used to be worn in the highlands of Scotland as an all-in-one pants, shirt, blanket, pillow, knife holster etc., the kilt is now the world’s most famous traditional dress. And with 40 Million scots all over the world, Kinloch Anderson is up to the challenge of providing every one with a garment of their family history. We asked about who is “allowed” to wear a tartan. Deirdre responded simply by saying, “We don’t care if you’re not Scottish and wear a tartan. We believe tartan is Scotland’s gift to the world. All we ask is that you wear it with pride.” What a beautiful way to sum up the people of Scotland and their love for their country.

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