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Made in Scotland – Tartan Kilts and Highland Wear by Houston Traditional Kiltmakers

At Houston’s we take great pride in our Kilts and Highland Wear, endeavoring to provide our clients with the highest quality produce. We strongly support the Scottish Manufacturing of Traditional Highlandwear and look to source products locally where possible – Made in Scotland!

Our Kilts

All our Kilts are Made to Measure, Made in Scotland and Made to Last! We use several local Kiltmakers, all with many years’ experience in crafting Handmade Kilts. Most of our Kiltmakers are based around the Paisley area (on the Central Belt of Scotland) and work from home. Kilt Making was traditionally a cottage industry, and that is still the case today!

Scottish Traditional Kilt

Locally Sourced Tartan Cloth

We source the cloth for our Kilts, Tartan Trews, Waistcoats, Tartan Suits and any other Tartan Accessories from Scottish Mills.* We work with all the remaining Tartan Mills in Scotland to provide any Tartan design our client requests and also have the ability to Specially Weave custom Tartan Designs. We feel that it is important to support this Traditional Scottish industry which has been well-established for many generations. As Vice-Chairman of the Scottish Tartans Authority (STA), Houston’s owner Ken MacDonald continues to work towards protecting Scottish Tartans and the production of this fabric in Scotland for future generations.

Isle of Bute Tartan Mill
Scottish Mills provide Houston's with Tartan Cloth. Photos show Bute Fabrics on the Isle of Bute.

Scottish Highland Outfit Accessories

For our Highland Wear Accessories – Sporrans, Silverware, Kilt Pins, Sgian Dubhs and and other items that complete a Highland Outfit – we look to local suppliers. Bespoke, Clan Crested items are made to order and add a special touch to any outfit!

Houston’s also has an in-store workshop where our Seamstress, Beth, works to craft custom Tartan Accessories for clients – ranging from Shoulder Plaids, Ring Cushions and Ties to Ladies Garters, Tartan Flashes and anything else you can think of!

Sporran and Tartan Flashes Made in Scotland

Houston’s Traditional Scottish Outfits are the Real McCoy – Made in Scotland! We are a 4th Generation family run business, working out of the same store on Paisley’s High Street since 1909 and more than happy to help deliver your perfect Highland Outfit!

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If you have an enquiries, please contact the shop, click here for all the details and online contact form!

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*A small, select range of Tartans are woven in England. Welsh Tartans are woven in Wales. We don’t use any Tartan Fabric from outwith the UK.

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Tartan Variations – Ancient, Modern, Hunting, Dress or Weathered?

If you use our Tartan Finder to search for your family Tartan, you might notice that your name returns several Tartans, each with a slightly different range of colours used in the design. There are a selection of colour variations used in the Tartan industry, and this article will explain the differences between each one.Tartan Kilts on Display

The 5 main variations in Tartan styles are Ancient, Modern, Hunting, Dress and Weathered (sometimes referred to as Withered or Muted). Within these groups you can also have a mixing of some of the style, for example a Ancient Hunting Robertson Tartan, or a Modern Dress Gordon Tartan. (Though you can’t get an Ancient-Modern Tartan combination!)

Ancient Tartan

Tartan’s with the prefix ‘Ancient’ are not necessarily older than other Tartans, it simply refers to the colour palette used in the design. The colours are often softer and lighter to what you would see in a ‘Modern’ Tartan design. These colours are choosen to have a closer link to the historical colours of Tartans in years gone by – produced with the natural dyes available. The colours are pastel-like, creating a softer feel, and giving the look of material that is worn beyond its years.

Modern Lamont with Ancient Lamont Tartan Comparison
Here you can see the Ancient and Modern Lamont Tartans. Note that the Sett of the Tartan is the Same, but the colours used in the Ancient Version are lighter/pastel.

Modern Tartan

As with ‘Ancient’ Tartan’s, the name ‘Modern’ relates to the colours used in the Tartan, not the date of the design. Ancient and Modern design’s tend to share the same sett, the change is in the colour palette used. While ‘Ancient’ Tartan use lighter softer colours, ‘Modern’ Tartans use stronger, darker colours.

Hunting Tartan

Hunting Tartans traditionally were worn when the wearer was on a hunt. To tie in with this, the colours usual are suited to match with the woodland background linked with a hunt – Greens and browns being the strongest colour here.

MacPhail, MacRae, MacGregor and MacFarlane Hunting Tartans
Hunting Tartans - MacFarlane Hunting Modern, MacGregor Hunting Ancient, MacPhail Hunting Ancient and MacRae Hunting Modern Tartans

Dress Tartan

It is often easy to identify Dress Tartan’s with the abundance of white thread used to make up the design (An exception to this is the Dress MacLeod Tartan, which uses yellow thread instead of the normal white). These designs are most popular with Highland Dancing Kilts, though they can also been worn to give a brighter looking Tartan Kilt. Dress Gordon is perhaps the most recongizable Tartan in this range as it has been incorporated into many popular fashion items such as scarves and jacket linings.

Dress Gordon, MacDonald, Gillies and MacLeod Tartans
Modern Dress MacDonald, Ancient Dress Gillies, Modern Dress Gordon and Ancient Dress MacLeod Tartans. Note that the MacLeod Dress Tartan Uses Yellow instead of White

Weathered Tartan

Tartans of the Weathered Styling use a colour palette to reflect the name – tones that are faded, giving a look of the Kilt being aged by exposure to inclement weather. In years gone by the Great Kilt worn by the Scots would have endured the harsh Scottish Weather and terrain. The Great Kilt would be used to protect the wearer from the elements, and would gain a worn and aged look from this. (Weather Tartans are also sometimes referred to as ‘Withered’ or ‘Muted’, depending on what Mill that Cloth is produced from.)

Watson, Sutherland, Murray of Atholl and MacLaren
A range of Weathered (Withered) Tartan - Watson, Sutherland, Murray of Atholl and MacLaren. You can see the Browns and Weather-Beaten Colours used here.

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While there are many different varieties of Tartan to choose from, at the end of the day it is down to preference what Tartan you decide upon. There is no right or wrong Tartan for any occasion – as long as the wearer likes it! Search now for all your families Tartans with our Tartan Finder!