Scotland’s Tartan Turnover

Scotland’s Tartan Turnover

The view of check-like arrangement of tartan pattern textile as you walk across the streets of Scotland gives one an up close and personal glimpse of the history that sets the foundation of an individual’s Scottish identity.

An attire that was worn by Bonnie Prince Charlie during his doomed attempt to win back the British crown on behalf of the Stuarts, to affirm his Scottish identity. A stylish tartan frock coat with red velvet cuffs and collar the image of the Scottish culture that cannot simply slip the visual capability of any individual. Scotland’s culture can be traced back almost 1000 years. Since its existence from the 12th century, both the local and international residents have added their own cultural vigour creating a unique and vibrant economy within Scotland.

Doddie’s Tartan Tam                                                                                  Photo Credit: Scotlandshop Facebook


Today, the tartan industry makes a significant contribution to the overall Scottish economy. The direct employment contribution of Scotland’s tartan industry is estimated at approximately 700,000 jobs, according to Scottish Enterprise, which is equivalent to approximately 1 in every 200 jobs in the country.Tartan’s overall contribution to Scotland’s GDP is equivalent to approximately £350m per annum – more than 0.5% of national GDP. The Scottish textile industry today is flexible, innovative and market-driven – producing for fashion, interior and performance markets in over 150 countries.  There are over 500 textile companies in Scotland, employing approximately 8,200 people and with textile exports valued at over £360m.

The Scottish fashion is attracting millions of people across the globe. From the traditional Highland dress popularly known as the kilt to the contemporary designs, a passion for the tartan textiles is thriving. Each year the tartan culture makes great strides within the fashion industry.

Royal Stewart Tartan right on display in Scotlandshop                                  Photo Credit: Scotlandshop Facebook

Emily Redman who works for retailer Scotlandshop, said “at the beginning of the year we were honoured to work with Scottish Rugby Legend Doddie Weir to design his very own tartan. Doddie’s Tartan Tam features blue and white patriotic tones to represent the colours of Scotland- Doddie’s home nation, black and yellow bold tones to represent Melrose RFC- the first amateur senior team Doddie played for, and black and white for Newcastle Falcons”.

Doddie’s love for personalized tartan suits has seen him raising about £250,000 for his MND research charity, months after being diagnosed with motor neuron disease. His passion and fondness towards the highland culture in his day -to- day activities has contributed to the success of Doddie’s Foundation.


‘From the traditional Highland dress popularly known as the kilt to the contemporary designs, a passion for the tartan textiles is thriving’


Redman added “Having over 10 permanent staff members across our office headquarters in the Scottish Borders and Flagship Edinburgh store enables us to launch new products throughout the year.”

Greg Martin has sold Tartan in Glasgow for more than 10 years. “Selling kilts for more than a decade is such an exciting experience. Some of my customers make orders through giving me a call or visiting my shop. Sometimes new customers who get attracted by the different colours of kilts displayed on the window.”

The different tartan patterns are artificially associated with Scottish clans, families, or institutions who prefer to be seen and associated in some way with a Scottish heritage. A majority of Scottish clans have several tartans attributed to their name.

Joss Hamilton Bryson playing Scottish harp                                          Photo Credit: Martha Awinoh

The most popular tartans used today is the Royal Stewart which is the most prolific style used in clothing, such as skirts and scarves. It is used also appeared on cups and biscuit tins for Scottish shortbread.

Redman said, “Queen Elizabeth II uses Royal Stewart has her personal tartan, meaning that anyone considered to be a subject of Elizabeth II can wear Royal Stewart if they choose. As the tartan is not restricted to members of the Stewart Clan this is a very popular choice with customers who do not have a family tartan of their own”

Musicians in Scotland often use the tartan when singing along the busy streets across Scotland. According to 24- year- old, Joss Bryston, wearing the kilt while performing at the street attracts more people resulting to more contribution towards his full-time business JB Piper Hire.

With four ways of presenting the hues in the tartan, there are about 14,000 recognised tartan variations from which to choose. There are about 3,500 to 7,000 different tartans, according to the Scottish Tartans Authority, with around 150 new designs being created every year.


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