As September draws to a close we are sharing some of our Highlights from the busy summer we have had as well as a message from our very busy Social Media Manager.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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 means you don’t have to worry about spills!
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.
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.
Upgrade to a full Kilt Packs, starting from £620 or £517 tax free. On all kilt packs over £600 you get a FREE shirt and tie value £60
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!
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)
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!
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 ruched 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.
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.
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!
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’ and 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.
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.
An interview with Mr Robert Keys
Mr Robert Keys, born in Uddingston, is a volunteer guide for Glasgow Cathedral which he does through The Society of Friends of Glasgow Cathedral. He heard of this unique volunteering opportunity by chance through an article in a paper.
Robert began this volunteer work in his retirement, before this he was in food and wine & spirit sales, and also briefly selling men’s clothes. His formative experience of kilts and highland wear was as a young teen in a pipe band. As he entered the working world he would attend licenced functions with his co-workers and dawned a kilt for these occasions.
Since his piping days, Robert has grown fond of highland dress and now owns 6 kilts! And he even has customisations for his outfits, such as a kilt made with only one buckle on either side for when he wears his Prince Charles jacket.
Mr Keys views kilts as an investment and spoke proudly of how his wife chose the tartan for the kilt he came in to our store wearing, the Isle of Skye tartan. His favourite tartan is the Davidson Tartan, which is the catchment tartan for his surname.
Robert presents himself well wherever he may be going, and thus generally prefers to wear highland dress formally. His exception is adding a Jacobite shirt to make things a bit more casual.
Robert has also played a small part at tartan design, being involved in the process with Uddingston rugby club when they commissioned a cloth for their centenary dinner.
Throughout his life, Mr Keys has taken his kilts with him on his travels. He brings his kilts to rugby games or pipe band gigs, as well as corporate events. His kilts have seen places such as Canada, Italy, Greece and France.
Robert is not always all kilts and tartan. He enjoys Scottish music artists such as Barbara Dixon, Field Marshall Montgomery, Annie Lennox and Annie Ross. His favourite piping band are the Inveraray & District Pipe Band, who he has followed since their days as a juvenile band.
Roberts choice of 3 Scottish dinner guests, past or present, would be Robert Burns, Ricky Fulton and William Barkley. Some dinner party!
The world has changed significantly in a short space of time. Our technological advancement’s within the past decade or so have led to the internet becoming a world-wide platform. This not only affected things like fashions that the kids were following, but also evoked a lot of social and political revolution.
Tartan, in one way or another, has always been associated with revolution. In the 18th century, the Jacobite’s wore it as a sign of allegiance to the Stuarts; in the 1970’s, punks “ripped up tartan shirts and adapted kilts as an anti-establishment message”. Japanese school girls have also adapted a style known as Kogal, in which they wear loose socks, microskirts (often featuring tartan), as well as having dyed hair. In modern times, the tartan rebellion is associated more often with ideas of gender non-conformity, individuality and freedom of expression.
In the world of fashion, those who are well established and respected are the ones who push the boundaries of what is acceptable, and if we the public take to it, it becomes a trend. Glasgow born Charles Jeffrey, who has been worn by artists such as Harry Styles and Tilda Swinton, is said to have taken influence from the punk subculture with regards to his designs, and is regarded on a similar level to Alexander McQueen. Designers Chopova Lowena are known for tearing up traditional textiles only to re-stich them in a new and unique way. They have dual British-Bulgarian heritage and their aim is to “Usher in a system of ethical consumption with a focus on appreciating skill, craft, time and consideration for impact on the environment”.
So, subcultures such as the punks have created an alternate association for the kilt and tartan; leading to clothes that were once heavily gendered becoming available for anyone wishing to express themselves, whether that’s stylistically or personally. The kilt has been significant in modern fashion expression due in part to its gender-fluidity. Times have changed and at Houston’s we will dress you to look your best, no matter what you’ll be wearing.
The British Royal family have had long ties with the traditional cloth of Scotland and a great affinity towards tartan. This link didn’t just start with the current monarch, but can be traced back hundreds of years!
The Dress Act of 1746 under George II brought a ban on kilts and all aspects of highland wear except for uses in the military. Any individual in breach of this act would imprisoned for 6 months for their first offence, and on their second they would be sent to overseas work camps. When the act was repealed it proved to kick-start the popularity in tartan – both with the general public and royalty.
George IV’s visit to Scotland in 1822 propelled the kilt into the forefront of everyone’s minds. Whilst his would have been far dressier than the traditional highlander kilt, the concept became sensationalised and romanticised. This started the real love affair with the royals and tartan.
Queen Victoria continued the link with tartan during her reign, often dressing her children in Kilts. Prince Albert, Victoria’s husband, was a keen tartan designer and attributed as the creator of the (Royal) Balmoral tartan – a tartan to be worn exclusively by the royals and specially selected parties. (The Queen’s personal piper is one of the selected few allowed to be dressed in the tartan.)
Queen Elizabeth is also a keen supporter of tartan, often seen wearing the cloth at Highland games or on visits to Scotland. Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales is also often spotted in a Highland outift on public occasions.
The British Royal family and Tartan have always gone hand in hand. As Queen Elizabeth II breaks the record for longest serving monarch, we hope the link continues for many years to come!
Who, what, when, where and why?
Established in the 17th Century, Kilts (originally called “little wrap” in Gaelic) were the first steps in a separation of the Celts, as prior to this Irish and Scottish Gaels wore similar fashions. During the Jacobite uprising of 1745 there was a “diskilting” act enacted as they were seen as a symbol of rebellion and primitive savagery, the only exception being for those serving in the military. This is perhaps the lifeline of the modern kilt seen today, as historians have argued that Highland costume would not have survived had there not been Highland regiments raised on and dressed in parts of their traditional dress.
Nearly 40 years later, through the efforts of the Highland society of London, the “diskilting” act was revoked. The image of the highlander at this point in time was changing from being seen as other, to an extotic romanticised image which still has an impact in today’s society. This image was also in part response to the industrial revolution; a rejection of the urban and industrial and an embracing of the wild, unpredictable wilderness.
Kilt wearing became national dress after King George IV’s visit to Edinburgh where he walked out on his guests dressed in a kilt, establishing it as national dress for Scotland. This example of a kilt far differs from the traditional Highland wear seen in the previous century.
The tail end of the 20th century is when kilt wearing became more what we are used to seeing today. The connotations the kilt has with masculinity has led to modern designers incorporating elements of the kilt into fashion to suit the young, fashionable male. The punk subculture as well as LGBT+ culture have adapted the kilt due to its associations with traditional masculinity, with more modern takes also allowing for the piece to make more of a statement, whether that be of individuality or questioning the lines between masculinity and femininity.
The Scottish Kilt is traditionally 8 yards ( 7.4 metres ) of pure new wool, and always made in Scotland. There is almost an inconceivable amount of tartans to choose from. Tartans are usually associated with a clan, but can be custom made. Kilts also come in a variety of weights to suit one’s needs or weather conditions:
– 16/17oz cloth ( Heavy weight ) is the best weight of authentic Scottish Kilt cloth as it sits and hangs and gives the best swing to the pleats. Contrary to what you may think, it is not any warmer than a 13oz kilt.
– For broader gentlemen heavy weight is by far the best cloth to use as it hangs much better over the belly and holds its shape and looks a million dollars!
– 13oz Medium weight is adequate if you are under a 44/46″ waist
– 19oz to 21oz is regimental weight cloth – only 6 tartans are woven in this weight now
– 110z Lightweight
Traditionally the Scottish kilt is fully handmade.The kiltmaker will take half a day to check the cloth, check sizes and prepare the tartan.The kiltmaker will then take around two days to make each kilt, there are around 6000 to 7500 stitches!
22 to 28 deep knife pleats ( Note kilts can be box pleated if you wish ).
And reinforced double stitches surrounding the key areas where typically you face the most wear and tear. Kilts can also be partially machine stitched which are also of high quality.
Houston Kiltmakers provides kilts with 3 buckles and straps so the customer has 1.5″ of adjustment for their optimal comfort. All kilts are cut for growth so that they can be adjusted a few inches in years to come.
Kilts can be made to a normal sett where the pleats at the back are folded to repeat the tartan exactly ( so the front and back of the kilt looks exactly the same) or they can be regimental sett. This is also called sett to the line where the kilt maker will take one of the symmetrical predominant pivot lines and sett each pleat to that line so you just see lines down the back of the kilt and the front and back of the kilt look remarkably different. A normal sett kilt is by far the most popular of the two options.
Kilts usually take 6 to 8 weeks to make provided the cloth is in stock. Kilts can be express made quickly in a few weeks or a few days if required at a premium.
If commissioning a special weave and cloth has to be woven, then kilts can take up to five or 6 months to make. For this reason we always recommend booking at least six months before your function date if you can.
Houston Kiltmakers is a 4th generation family business based in Paisley established in 1909 by William.M Houston. Mr Houston’s Great grandson Ewan William MacDonald is now running the business and is passionate about everything tartan. At Houstons we have kiltmakers with decades of experience.
Houston kiltmakers are one of the few kiltmakers in Scotland who offer bespoke options. Our history spanning over 100 years and being established in the threading town of Paisley means we are particularly skilled and provide a niche in this market. If you are interested in getting a bespoke, authentic Scottish kilt you can come into the shop, contact us by telephone on 0141 889 4879 or email email@example.com.
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 Highland wear industry and his passion for Tartan.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
This article examines the Gordon Clan, looking back at their History, studying their Clan Crests and a glimpse at the associated clan tartans!
The name Gordon believed to be of Anglo Norman descent. The first known of the name are said to have saved the King from the attack of a wild boar. This is why many believe a boar’s head features on the family coat of arms.
The earliest record of the name confirms the Gordons settled in the Borders of Scotland during the reigns of William the Lion and Malcolm IV.
Sir Adam de Gordon was one of the commissioners who negotiated with Edward I in order to settle the competition over the crown of Scotland. Sir Adam was a faithful follower of Robert the Bruce and was sent to Rome to ask the Pope to reverse the excommunication, placed upon Bruce after he killed John Comyn.
British Army Links
The Gordon Highlanders was a infantry regiment of the British Army that existed for 113 years, from 1881 until 1994 when it was amalgamated with the Queen’s Own Highlanders to form the Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons), which was later merged with the Royal Scots Borderers, the Royal Highland Fusiliers , the Black Watch and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to form the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Clan Crest and Motto
The clan crest for the Gordon Clan is of a stag’s head atop of a crown. This is surrounded with the clan motto, ‘Bydand’, which translates from Gaelic to traditional Scots as ‘Bide and Fecht’, meaning ‘Stay and Fight’. The Gordon Coat of Arms features the head of a boar, thought to be reference to the boar killed by an early Gordon in protection of the King.
There are several Gordon tartans, with perhaps the best recognized being the ‘Dress Gordon’ variation. It has transcended the world of highland wear and became a popular tartan in other fashion items.
House of Gordon USA, whose mission is to preserve and promote our unique heritage and Celtic culture.
You can learn more of the heritage and history of the Clan Gordon at House Of Gordon.com
You can see our full range of Gordon Tartans here!