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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 Jackets Kilt Kilts Kilts for Sale Made In Scotland Paisley Scotland Shoulder Plaid tartan traditions Wedding Kilts

Shipping Kilts Worldwide! From the USA to Australia – and Everywhere in Between!

Houston’s Kiltmakers prides itself on providing the finest quality Kilt Outfits, crafted with woollen cloth made by the Scottish Mills. This certainly doesn’t mean that our products are exclusively for clients in Scotland – quite the opposite! We ship our products across the world through our international carrier DHL and Interlink Express. Customers living outside the EU can also take advantage of Tax-Free prices!

Houston Traditional Kiltmkaers

Don’t worry if you are Overseas – you can still experience the same high class service we offer all our customers who visit the store. Communication is key when creating your bespoke Kilt outfit, and we take the time to converse with each customer to make sure that the finished Highland Outfit they receive is exactly how they imagined it. You can get in touch by Email, Phone, Skype – or a combination of all three!

If you can’t make it into the store you can still send us the required sizes we need to craft your Kilt Outfit. A local tailor/seamstress can take the sizes we need, or you can use our Self-Measurement Guides and helpful measuring videos to take your own sizes to send to us. Don’t worry, we have many years’ experience working on Highland Wear outfits, so will double check all sizes and let you know if we think any measurement you have sent us seems a little bit off!

Tartan Kilts

Whether your outfit is for a special occasion such as your Wedding day or a Graduation, or perhaps for more casual day-wear at a Celtic Gathering or Highland Games, we’ll give you expert advice at each step of your outfit – making sure you look a million dollars, no matter the event!

Living abroad doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the full Houston’s experience – take a look around the shop with a 3D virtual tour from Google. (Maybe you’ll get the chance to visit and meet the team!)

Scottish Kilts and Sporrans

You can also take a behind the scenes look at our In-Store workshop, where our wonderful seamstress Beth crafts Tartan extras for you Highland Outfit and makes alterations to Kilts. Check out our sneak peek at how Tartan Flashes  and Tartan Shoulder Plaids are made!

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If you’re from Scotland or somewhere else in the world, let Houston Kiltmakers be your No.1 Kilt, Tartan, and Highlandwear specialists!

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Highlandwear Made In Scotland Paisley Scotland Scottish History traditions

Things to do in Paisley, Scotland!

Houston Kiltmakers store is located on the West coast of Scotland in the town of Paisley, which lies on the outskirts of Glasgow, 5 minutes’ drive from Glasgow Airport. If you are visiting the shop why not check out some of the great tourist destinations on our doorstep! There is a wealth of attractions in Paisley, with many linked to the towns historical weaving past.

What to see in Paisley

Paisley has a deep routed history is weaving, establishing itself as a key player in the weaving industry in the 1800’s. Its prominence in this industry lead the town lending its name to a woven design, the Paisley Pattern.

While the weaving industry is no longer an industrial powerhouse in Paisley (the last mill closed in 1993), remnants of the historic industry remain around the town.

(Click on the images to enlarge!)

Weavers Cottage in Paisley
Sma Shots Cottage in Paisley - Step Back in Time at this Traditional Weavers Cottage!

Sma’ Shot Cottages

Open: Wednesday and Saturday: 12.00 – 16.00, April – September

Admission: FREE

Built around the 1740’s, Sma’ Shot Cottages are a fully restored example of a traditional weaver’s cottage with Loom workroom and living quarters. Take a step back in time over 250 years and get a feel of what it would have been like to be working and living as a weaver in the 18th century!

Paisley Museum and Art Gallery

Open: Tuesday to Saturday (and public holidays): 11.00 – 16.00 and Sunday: 14.00-17.00

Admission: FREE

Situated directly across the road from Houston Kiltmakers, Paisley Museum and Art Gallery offers a wealth of treasures, from Ancient Egyptian artifacts to reminders of our industrial past and our natural heritage.

Also on the site of the Museum is the Coats Observatory, only 1 of 4 public Observatories in the country. Find more details about tours and Winter viewing’s here.

Paisley Museum and Paisley Thread Mill Museum
Paisley Museum & Art Gallery and the Mill End Mill, Home of the Paisley Thread Mill Museum

Thread Mill Museum

Open: Wednesday and Saturday: 12.00 – 16.00

Admission: FREE

Housed in the Mile End Mill building and staffed by volunteers (many of whom are ex-mill workers!), the Paisley Thread Mill Museum offers the chance to see many items that have been donated by people who were connected with the Thread Mills and include photographs, mill machinery, samples of products made there and sewing artifacts.

Paisley Abbey

Open: Monday to Saturday: 10.00 – 15.30

Admission: FREE

Constructed in 1163 and given the status of Abbey in 1245, Paisley Abbey has a deep historical past within the town. Sir William Wallace is widely believed to have been educated for some time as a boy at the Abbey.

Thomas Coats Memorial Church and Paisley Abbey
Thomas Coats Memorial Church and Paisley Abbey

Thomas Coats Memorial Church

Open: Viewing by arrangement: Contact: 0141 889 9980 (church) or 0141 587 8992 (secretary)

Admission: FREE

This spectacular Church with its distinctive crown steeple can be seen in the skyline from all across Paisley. Completed in 1894, the church can host a congregation of over 1,000 people.

Places to Eat in Paisley

Allan’s Chip Shop

Located just around the corner from Houston’s, this chippy has been serving the people of Paisley for over 100 years!

Cardosi’s

An Italian restaurant offering Italian classics in a relaxed environment. They also run a cafe directly opposite Houston’s where you can enjoy a lighter snack!

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Paisley is home to a host of attractions that are well worth a visit. Make a trip to Houston’s a day out and take in some of the sights around town!