Thursday, October 12, 2006
Where do you put the “skean dhu”?
When you think of Scotland, what images come to mind? Mountains, lochs and bagpipes no doubt. But I bet tartan is also definitely one of them.
The Scottish Borders is one of the strongholds of tartan weaving in Scotland, with a number of well-known mills producing the iconic cloth. Just down the road from our office here in Selkirk is probably one of the most famous tartan-weaving firms of all in the shape of Lochcarron of Scotland.
And Lochcarron and its famous tartan products such as kilts and scarves will be among the stars at the glamorous Los Angeles Fashion Week next month.
Lochcarron is one of nine Scottish companies scheduled to attend the prestigious event as part of a strategy to build a strong international brand for Scottish textiles.
Lochcarron is hoping, with the other Scottish companies, to break into the lucrative U.S. west coast market by participating in the famous “Dressed to Kilt,” show which is the launch event for the fashion week, and which will be attended by some of the world’s leading buyers, designers and celebrities.
In fact, when I got married two years ago, it was to Lochcarron that I turned when I needed to have a new kilt made for the big day. My old kilt had been woven about 12 years before and, while a good, well-made kilt, is virtually indestructible, waistlines are not!
So a new kilt it was and in my mother’s family clan of MacDonald of Clanranald, an ancient and noble branch of Clan Donald. And the rig-out got its latest airing just two weeks ago when my wife and I went out for dinner to celebrate our anniversary.
I have never been a great fan of getting dressed up in shirt, suit and tie, but the kilt? You can’t beat it if you’re a Scotsman. As well as the kilt, you have a tweed jacket and waistcoat, clan tie, sporran made of leather, sealskin or some other animal fur, skean dhu (the small dagger which goes in the top of your sock) and ghillie brogue shoes.
Some people take it a bit further and also wear a plaid - a long length of cloth over one shoulder and fastened with a large cairngorm brooch. Two years ago when we attended a friend’s wedding in the Highlands, the groom even came resplendent with Scottish basket-hilted broadsword and dirk!
I, too, have a dirk, which I wore at my wedding, but only because it came in handy as a cake knife!
No matter where you go, even in Scotland, a kilt and Highland dress always draws admiring glances. No doubt it will be the same at this year’s Dressed to Kilt show in L.A.
The Dressed to Kilt events, already a regular feature of New York’s Fashion Week, are organised by charity Friends of Scotland and have generated publicity worth around $4 million in the U.S. in the past two years.
Lochcarron and the other companies will be aiming to capitalise on the additional publicity to help them build a presence for their brands in the U.S. market.
But as to the age-old question of what a Scotsman wears under his kilt....?
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