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Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Made In Scotland Paisley Scotland tartan

About Ken MacDonald – Owner of Houston Kiltmakers

Ken MacDonald is the 3rd generation to run Houston Kiltmakers and is regarded as a world leading designer Tartans. Among his designs include the ‘American National Tartan’, which was presented to US President George W. Bush in 2004 to commemorate Tartan Day and also the ‘Glasgow Mile’s Better’ Tartan used at the Glasgow Garden Festival, which he personally presented to the British Royal Family.

Ken is passionate about Highlandwear & Tartan, and this has led him to roles as Vice Chairman of The Scottish Tartans Authority and Deacon of the Incorporation of Weavers of Glasgow.

We discussed with him how he got started in the Highlandwear industry and his passion for Tartan.

Ken MacDonald and his son, Ewan - 3rd and 4th Generations to work at Houston Kiltmakers

Tell us about yourself and your journey – how did the shop start, and what has been your role in the industry?

The shop was founded in 1909 by my grandfather William Houston as a gentlemen’s outfitters. Over time it developed to supplying Highlandwear and now that’s what we focus on. Houston Kiltmakers is now a 4th Generation family run business as my son, Ewan, has recently joined us in the shop. Using only the best materials sourced in Scotland where possible, our garments are tailored specifically for the customer by craftsmen & women with many years’ experience. This ensures the finest quality products that will last a lifetime. As we have grown over the years we have expanded and now ship Kilts all over the world!

The store is located in Paisley, Scotland (A town right next to Glasgow), where I was born. From a very young age I received my first Kilt and also wore a Kilt to school. I have always had a passion for Highlandwear and I’ve been lucky enough to have an opportunity to work in this industry. I have been involved in Kilt making and Tartan Design for almost 40 years now.

Pictures of Houston's Shop from the early 20th century to the present day

What does your role with the STA and Incorporation of Weavers of Glasgow entail?

Tartan and Kilts are synonymous with Scotland and these traditions must be safeguarded. As a Governor and Vice Chairman of the Scottish Tartan Authority we have been working hard to try to protect and preserve these key pieces of Scottish heritage for future generations.

I was honored to take the role of Deacon of the Incorporation of Weavers of Glasgow during their 500th anniversary year. This ancient craft has been functioning in Scotland since 1514 and they are continuing their historic work into the 21st century. They still provide assistance to local charities and educational establishments, while maintaining connections throughout the UK weaving industry.

Have you ever designed or provided Tartans for the British Royal Family?

Back in 1988 I was asked to design a tartan for use for the staff uniforms at the Glasgow Garden Festival. The ‘Glasgow’s Miles Better’ tartan I designed was used for these uniforms, and when HRH Prince Charles came to visit the festival he was presented with two Kilts in the tartan for his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. It was a great privilege to be able to present the Kilts to HRH Prince Charles in person.

Left: Ken presenting a 'Glasgow's Miles Better' Tartan Kilt to Prince Charles, Right: A note of thanks from President George W. Bush

Tartan has strong links to the royal family, with King George VI leading the revival of Kilt wearing in Scotland in the 19th century and Queen Victoria had a love for tartan too, her husband Prince Albert designed the Balmoral tartan exclusively for Royal use. It was great to see that the royal interest in tartan is still strong.

Where do you get your inspiration for new design ideas?

I get ideas for new Tartan designs from many places, but I would have to say that a strong inspiration for me is the Isle of Bute. I spend quite a bit of my free time on this small island off the west coast of Scotland at my holiday home there. It is good to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city sometimes to help yourself get creative.

I designed our exclusive Bute Heather range of tartans on the island and they really are a strong influence on my work. The scenery on the Island is beautiful and it’s hard to believe that somewhere so peaceful is only a little over an hour away from Glasgow.

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Visit our Buy site at Kiltmakers.com and our Hire site at KiltsForHire.com

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Highlandwear Made In Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan traditions

Clan Tartans in Focus – Clan Campbell

This article examines the Campbell Clan, looking back at their History, studying their Clan Crests and a glimpse at the associated clan tartans!

The Campbell Clan is one of the largest Scottish Clans and historically one of the most powerful. According to the 2001 census, ‘Campbell’ was the 4th most common surname in Scotland.

Clan History

It is thought that the Campbell’s originally hailed from the Strathclyde area on the west coast of Scotland, with strong connections to the Argyll region.  The clan chief of Clan Campbell has been the Earl of Argyll since 1445, then Duke of Argyll from 1701.

The Argyll region of Scotland and the Campbell Clan Crest

In the 14th Centuary the Campbell’s were strong supporters of Scottish Independence, and fought along side Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314

The Campbell’s are perhaps best known for their part in the infamous Massacre at Glencoe, where troops (including several Campbell’s) lead by Robert Campbell of Glenlyon murdered members of the MacDonald Clan in Glencoe on 13th February 1692.
During the two Jacobite uprisings in the 18th centuary, the Campbell’s sided with the British government and fought against the Jacobite armies. The Campbell’s had four divisions of men at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the last battle of the uprising which crushed the rebellion.

Today, the Clan Chief of the Clan Campbell is Torquhil Campbell, 13th Duke of Argyll, who captained Scotland’s Elephant Polo team to victory in the 2004 and 2005 World Elephant Polo Association World Championships.  Inveraray Castle has been the seat of the Duke of Argyll, chief of Clan Campbell, since the 17th century.

Torquhil Campbell, 13th Duke of Argyll (L) and the Scottish Elephant Polo team in  2005, with Campbell in the centre (R)
Torquhil Campbell, 13th Duke of Argyll (L) and the Scottish Elephant Polo team in 2005, with Campbell in the centre (R)

Clan Tartans

The Campbell Tartan is predominantly green and blue, intersected with a black check. The tartan may look quite familiar to many, as it also goes under the name ‘Black Watch‘ – the tartan used extensively in the UK military.

Inverary Castle, surrounded by Clan Campbell Tartans
A variety of Campbell Tartans

There are variations of the tartan based on different locations around Scotland where certain Campbell’s hailed from. These tartans include: Campbell of Argyll, Campbell of Breadalbane, Campbell of Cawdor, Campbell of Lochawe and Campbell of Loudoun. Each design uses the base colours from the Campbell tartan, but add a thin, coloured line through the design.

Clan Crest and Motto

The Clan Campbell crest is of a Boar’s head and they have the motto ‘Ne Obliviscaris’, which is Latin for ‘Forget Not‘)

Houston’s stock many varieties of Campbell Clan Crested accessories here.

Other Useful Links

The Clan Campbell Society of North America (CCSNA) is a great resource to learn more about the Campbell Clan’s history.

Inveraray Castle, the seat of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of Clan Campbell.

View all the Campbell Tartans stocked by Houston Kiltmakers.

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Gifts Highlandwear Kilt Pin Made In Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History Sporran traditions

Clan Crest Accessories – Personalised Clan Highland Wear

The roots of Highland Wear comes from the Scottish Clan system – Clan Tartans are a great example of showing the contrasting styles of the Clans. Each Clan, along with their own specific Tartans, also have their own Clan Crest and Coat of Arms. At Houston’s we can provide the option to customize many items with your own Clan Crest to make each item special to you and link to the connection with a family name. Great as personalized touches to your Kilt outfit.Clan Crested Kilt Pin - Kitlmakers.com

With origins in the Clan system of Scotland, a Scottish crest badge is a heraldic badge worn to show allegiance to an individual or membership in a specific Scottish clan.

Clan Crested Belt Buckle - Kiltmakers.com

Clan Crest accessories can be customized with 120+ different Family Crests – the perfect personalized gift for a loved one, a friend or wear them yourself! From Clan Anderson to Wallace, any many names in-between, choose your family’s clan crest for your accessories!

Clan Crested Sgian Dubh - Kiltmakers.com

Wall plaques, Cufflinks and tankards are also available with a family crest, which make great gifts!

Clan Crested Cap Badge - Kiltmakers.com

All our Clan Crested accessories are made in Scotland by our trusted supplier. As there is a wide range of crests available in some rare occasions it could take up to 6 weeks for your accessory to be delivered as they will have to be made if they are out of stock at the time of order.

Houston’s crested product range includes Sporrans, Kilt Pin’s, Belt Buckles, Sgian Dubh’s and much more. You can see our full range here!

 

 

 

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Burn's Night Burn's Supper Céilidh Highlandwear Kilt Kilt Hire Kilts Made In Scotland tartan Wedding Kilts Weddings

Kilt Hire Guide – Find your Perfect Outfit

Houstons offer the largest and best range of Kilt Outfits for hire in the Scotland, with over 110 tartans, 20 styles of super lightweight jackets, three different button options and over 100 ruche tie colours 

Hires start from £75 and range to £145 depending on the rarity of the tartan selected, your jacket style and the finish of your accessories.

We have our Luxury Purple and Grey Tartan range out for 2017 with 22 grey designs and 15 purple designs. These tartans include our EXCLUSIVE Bute Heather range tartans.

Best to download our comprehensive 84 page Hire Brochure to view our exclusive range.

You can see our new range of tartans and price ranges in our latest Hire Leaflet.

Our Hire site can be found at KiltsForHire.com where you can see all Hire tartans, information and videos.

Special Offers – 6 Hires for the Price of 5!

Book 5 Hires and the 6th for groom goes FREE on 20 of our top tartans, 20 Styles of Jackets, 140 colours of Ruche Cravats and our Exceptional high quality service! Learn more HERE!

Wedding Extras

To make your Wedding day extra special we take care of every little detail. We offer Tartan Ring Cushions, Hand Ties, Ladies Garters, Ribbon, Ties, Trim for Dresses, Handbags and Button Holes designed to match with your Kilt design. Find our range of extras HERE, these can be made in ANY tartan on request.

We work closely with Joyce Young Collections who co-ordinate Brides, Mothers, Bridesmaids’ & Guest’s dresses with our Tartans. She also has a factory outlet store open Saturdays in Glasgow, with up to 75% off.

Hire & Buy Offer

If you would like to buy a Kilt in ANY TARTAN (over 14,000!) you can receive a loan of all the accessories for one week absolutely free!

Ideal if you have an upcoming event and would like to build up your Kilt outfit through time! (UK Only) More details on Hire & Buy HERE.

Measurement and Shipping Information

Best to pop in to our store if you can to get measured. Your whole party does not need to get measured at the same time, they can come when available, they just need to mention the party name or groom’s name. If you can’t make it into the shop then you can use our easy to use Self-Measurement guide for HIRING a Kilt Outfit.

We ship in the UK using Interlink Express and Worldwide using DHL.

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Kilts for Sale Made In Scotland Special Weave Tartans tartan Weaving Wedding Kilts

Kilt Buying Guide – 3 Simple Steps to Buying a Kilt

Buying a Kilt can seem like a complicated process, but it is really quite straight forward. This guide will take you through the process step-by-step.

About our Kilts

All our Kilts are Made in Scotland. Our Kilts can be cut for growth so through time if you lose or gain weight your Kilt can be altered accordingly, ensuring your Kilt lasts a lifetime.

All our Houston’s Own 16oz Heavyweight ranges K23b & K24 are Teflon Coated to Stain-Proof your Kilt from spillages, even Beer!

Time Scale and Price

Generally it takes 4 to 8 weeks to make kilt if the cloth is in stock, however we do offer an express service for delivery in 2 weeks at an additional cost of £50.

We recommend you start the process as soon as possible – if the cloth is out of stock at the mill it can take up to 4 to 6 months before it is rewoven.

The cost of a Kilt depends on your chosen Tartan, its rarity and your Kilt finish. Buying a full outfit as a Kilt Pack gives you an overall discount of 10%. Kilts start from £288 (£240 Tax-Free), and Kilt Packs from £620 (£517 Tax-Free).

Current Offers

Step 1 – Choosing Your Tartan

On our website, Kiltmakers.com you can browse through EVERY TARTAN, clan histories and clan crests using our Tartan Finder. Search through Sept names and Tartans anyone can wear!

The most common method of choosing a tartan is to pick one with links to your family name. For instance, if your surname is ‘MacDonald’, you could start by searching for all the ‘MacDonald’ tartans, and picking the design you like the most.

While you are searching you may notice that you find several variation of a tartan, such as Ancient, Modern, Hunting, Dress or Weathered. These colour variations are explained here. The

In cases where a name does not have a direct match for a clan tartan, they might have a Sept match. Septs are surnames that, while not having their own clan, are associated with a clan. For example, instances of the name Reid can be associated with clan Robertson. Members of the Reid family should therefore wear Robertson tartan. Our Tartan Finder will bring up Sept matches to names, making it easy to find the tartan for you.

Along with clan tartans, there is a wide range of regional and district tartans. Example include tartans for each Irish County, American National Tartan, German Heritage, Irish National, Cornish National and so on. Even if your name doesn’t link with a tartan, a regional tartan could be a fine choice.

There is a wide range of ‘Fashion’ tartans, which can be worn by anyone. These are usually modern designs, though there are some blends of more traditional colour palettes. Houston’s exclusive Bute Heather range is an example of these tartans.

If you can’t find the perfect tartan from the selection available, why not have your own custom tartan specially woven? Houston’s owner Ken MacDonald is a renowned tartan designer and we can take you right though the process from designing the tartan to having it registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans and woven for you.

Step 2 – Choosing your Cloth Weight and Mille

Now that you have selected your tartan design, Kilts come as standard in 8 yards (7.4m). Tartan fabric tends to come in 3 weights: Light (11oz), Medium (13oz) and Heavy (16/17oz). For a Kilt we recommend a 16 oz Heavyweight cloth as the pleats sit and swings better, making you look a million dollars.

A Heavyweight cloth is NOT any warmer than a medium or light weight kilt – it is the weight of the jacket which builds up the heat.

You will notice the ‘Stain-Proofed’ tag on many of our tartans – these tartans have a special Teflon Coating which

We are the only kilt shop to stock a 100% Fine Wool Super Lightweight. The custom cut of the jacket has been perfected over 20 years to give the best fit and each jacket has a stain proof coating.

Step 3 – Selecting your Kilt Finish

Kilt Finishes Explained - Explained

At Houston’s we offer a selection of different Kilt finish across a range of prices. Our range of Kilt finishes are explained in more detail here: Kilt Finishes Explained

We recommend Kilt Finish No. 6 – Super Machine Understitched Kilt. It is made to the  same quality that we make Kilts for the MOD (Ministry of Defense) and all army kilts we make.

Additional Information

Upgrade to a full Kilt Packs, starting from £620 or £517 tax free:  Kilt Packs Guide. On all kilt packs over £600 you get a FREE shirt and tie value £60

Can’t make it to the shop? Our Self-Measurement guides and Videos on taking measurements will help you to get the perfect sizes.

We ship in the UK using Interlink Express and Worldwide using DHL. All orders are fully insured and tracked. Orders out with the EU receive TAX-FREE prices!


Hire & Buy Option

Why not take advantage of our Hire & Buy scheme, where you can buy a Kilt in ANY TARTAN and receive a loan of all the accessories for one week absolutely free!

Ideal if you have an upcoming event and would like to build up your Kilt outfit through time! (UK Only) More details on Hire & Buy HERE.

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We can post out FREE Tartan Swatches/Samples in the UK. Samples overseas require £5 p/p charge, which is refundable upon completing your order.

If you need any help with selecting your tartan, wish to make an order or anything other queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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Highlandwear Jackets Kilt Kilts Kilts for Sale Made In Scotland

Kilt Alterations, Adjustments and Repairs

A Kilt made by Houston’s, if cared for correctly, can last a lifetime. As your body changes over time there can be a need for alterations to be made to your Kilt to keep it fitting you perfectly. Houston’s owner Ken has had one of his Kilts for 30 years, having had 4 alterations to it over the years to keep it looking its best.

We offer a wide variety of alteration and repair services for your Kilt to make sure that through its life it still fits you perfectly.

Our in-house seamstress has over 30 years experience and with her skilled eye can identify solutions that can be made to keep you in your Kilt! Best to bring your Kilt into the shop where we can take a look at what alterations can be made.

Kilt Alteration Services:

  • Kilt Waist Alterations – Often Kilts made have some extra material left that can be let out if your waist size increases. Alternatively Kilt can be taken in if you lose weight and your Kilt struggles to stay up. When buying a Kilt from us, we ask if you wish the Kilt to be cut for growth – this means we will leave some extra cloth hidden in the seam, leaving you with more options to let the Kilt out at a later date.
  • Moving Kilt Adjustment Buckles – The buckles attached to your Kilt can be moved either out or in, giving more of less room. This can give your Kilt a better fit if your weight changes. Our seamstress takes great care in making sure that the tartan cloth attached to the buckle blends in as best as possible to where the buckle is moved too.
  • Worn Kilt Strap Replacement – Over time, your leather waist straps can experience general wear and tear after years of tightening and loosening and may need replacing. Replacing tired looking straps means that ever detail of your Kilt is looking great.
  • Adding Kilt Extension Straps – Extra long straps can replace standard Kilt waist straps, allowing for a larger fit if needed. This involves
  • Kilt Lining Replacement – Worn waist kilt linings can be removed and replaced with new material. The lining of a Kilt is there to protect the Kilt from general wear and tear, so may need replacing over time.
  • Kilt Shortening – A Hem can be added to your Kilt if it is too long. This can be let down at a later date if required.
  • Complete Kilt Remake – We can take apart your Kilt and reassemble it from scratch. This is quite an extreme solution and we recommend it as a last resort.
  • Jacket Alterations – Many fine tuning alterations can be completed on a Jacket, from  sleeve & shoulder adjustments to, Back & Side Seam alterations. More about Jacket Alterations can be read here

Jacket Alterations to Kilt Jackets

These alterations are available on a kilt by kilt basis – best to bring in your Kilt so we can take a look and see what solutions are available to us. Pricing is subject to the work done and quote available on request.

Get in touch with us with your query and we will be able to best advise what we can do to get you looking your best in your Highland Outfit!

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Kilts for Sale Made In Scotland tartan Wedding Kilts

20% off Houston’s Own Range Made to Measure Kilts!

We are running a promotion with 20% off Made to Measure Kilts in any of our Own Range 16oz Heavyweight tartan cloths. Get a custom kilt in a wide range of tartans from £288 

This offer is available on our Super Machine under-stitched Kilt finish. This kilt finish is 60% hand made, with all the preparation completed by hand cutting the scallops to template. Then the kilt is stitched by machine under the pleats, reinforcing the areas around the buckles, straps and belt loops. Finally the kilt is checked and hand finished, and given a super press to keep the pleats nice and sharp.

Visit Kiltmakers.com for more details about this offer and our other special deals!

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Highlandwear How Its Made Kilt Kilts Made In Scotland tartan

Traditonal African Cloth, Made into a Traditional Scottish Kilt!

Recently a customer came into our shop with material he had collected from his recent trip around Africa. He asked if we could make the traditional cotton African cloth into a traditional Scottish Kilt, and we accepted the task!

(Click on the Images to Enlarge!)

There were a few challenges to overcome to make this African Kilt a reality – the material provided wasn’t in the usual dimensions we use to make a Kilt, so the Kiltmaker had to carefully work out the best way to cut and restitch the cloth back together in an easier to work with shape.

The material was different to what we usually work with. Instead of a heavyweight wool this cloth was a lighter-weight cotton.

The unusual design on the cloth meant that working with it was quite different from Scottish Tartan, but there were still similarities. As you can see from the reverse of the Kilt, the Kiltmakers has still managed to incorporate the pattern of the cloth into the pleats on the rear.

We think that turned out great, a very unique look! What do you think of this different take on the Scottish Kilt?

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Highlandwear How Its Made Kilt Kilt Hire Kilts Made In Scotland Scottish History traditions

Ruche Ties – Behind the Scenes – How they are Made

We spent some time in our In-Store workshop, watching many items being created by our wonderful seamstress Beth. In this series of articles we will take a closer look at a few of the Tartan accessories she has been crafting! This week we take a closer look at the Ruche Tie.

Mix of Tartan Ruche Ties

What is a Ruche Tie?

A Ruche Tie is alternative neckwear to the standard tie and bow tie. In terms of looks it is halfway between a standard tie and a cravat. Ruche Ties are wider than a standard necktie with an extravagant knot. They make for the perfect neckwear for your Highland Outfit, providing extra prestige to your formal attire.

Ruche Ties come in both plain colour, or in a tartan to match your Kilt. If you are having a Kilt made, please enquire about having matching neckwear crafted to match. Tartan Ruche Ties are a popular option with Kilt Hires and are available in boys sizes too!

How a Ruche Tie is Made

Our seamstress has been making Ruche Ties for many years, and has perfected her own take on this neckwear.

(Click Photos to Enlarge!)

Cut out the Tie Templates
Cloth for the Ruche Ties is cut from Templates

To start, the material needed is cut from templates. Cloth for the two tie sleeves, neck knot and neck loop are carefully cut out. If tartan is being used, extra care is taken to keep the design symmetrical and to incorporate as much of the tartan pattern into the tie.

The Parts for the Ruche Tie are sewn into shape
The cloth is stitched into shape

From here the cloth templates are stitched to create the shape of the knot, the two tie sleeves (one larger than the other) and the neck loop (like a tube of cloth now).

Press the Edges of the Tie into Shape
The Edges of the Tie are carefully pressed into shape

The edges are then pressed to give them their final shape. The pressing ensures that they keep their shape and there aren’t any unwanted bulges.

Ruche Tie knot stitched on to the rest of the Tie
The Knot is hand stitched on to the rest of the Ruche Tie pieces

The next step is to hand stitch the knot on to the top of the two tie pieces – this holds the whole tie together. The Ruche Tie is starting to take shape! Finally, metal hook are attached to the neck loop, and this in turn is attached to the knot. The tie is complete!

A Few Ruche Ties in Mens and Boys Styles
A Few Ruche Ties in our Exclusive Bute Heather Tartans!

Our Ruche Ties come in both Men’s and Boy’s sizes and can be made in over 130 colours to match your outfit, or in the Tartan of your choice! To find out more please contact us at Houston Kiltmakers!

 

Categories
Highlandwear Kilt Kilt Hire Kilts Kilts for Sale Made In Scotland Special Weave Tartans tartan Wedding Kilts

Teflon Coated Kilts – Stainproof and Beerproof!

Houston Kiltmakers were the first to Teflon Coat/Stain-proof all of our own range Tartans. Since then many of the Tartan mills have followed suit and offer a Stain-proof coating on their Kilts. We provide this Teflon Coating on all our Own Range Tartans and on a range of Tartans from Selected Mills at no extra cost.

A Teflon Coating, applied to the cloth in the finishing process when the tartan is woven, creates a protective layer around your finished Kilt. This allows for rain and stains (even beer!) to simply run off or be easily wiped off your Kilt.

Over the life of your Kilt, we calculate that this simply protection will save you approximately £180 to £260 on dry cleaning as the garment will need cleaned less often. The Teflon coating lasts a minimum of 18 dry cleanings.

Look out for the ‘Stain Proofed Coating’ banner on the Tartans in our Tartan Finder to see which of our cloths come with a Teflon Coating – Free of Charge!

Stain-Proofed Tartan
Look out for the Stain Proofed Coating Labels in our Tartan Finder!

Teflon Coating is available on a wide range of stock Tartans, and also on Special Weave Tartans. If you are unsure if the Tartan your looking for has a Teflon Coating – just get in touch and we will let you know!