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, theIsle 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.
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.
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.
It’s a great time to be Scottish folks! Well its always great being a Scot but there are just so many exciting things happening right now! There has been a big yellow ball up in the sky for sometime now and its turning all us pasty Scots a bit pink and freckly! We are of course referring to THE SUN! Anyone who has visited Scotland will know that sun is a rare phenomenon in our country but it has made wedding season all the better in Scotland! There is nothing better than the sun shining on your special day! As a kilt maker and highland outfitter it’s a very busy spell for us! With wedding season in full swing love is in the air and kilts are being worn all over the world! It’s been a busy few weeks at Houstons! We’ve had orders placed from USA, Australia, Belgium, London, Zimbabwe, Dubai, Wales and we have had visitors in store from the Channel Islands, Cyprus and Norway! With so much badness happening in the world it’s nice to hear of so many couples getting married and of course we are delighted that kilts are part of the occasion!
Customer wedding in sunny Mexico
It fills us with pride to know that kilts are so popular around the globe and so many of you want to honour your Scottish heritage. Kilts are not just for weddings, they can be wore to any occasion… even marathons! We were recently contacted by Jamie who was part of a team organizing America’s first ever nonstop running relay from Los Angeles to Boston. The event was created to raise funds and awareness for The One Fund Boston which supports victims of the tragic events of this year’s Boston and their families. Jamie wanted to have a kilt sent to his accommodation in New York so he could wear it during media interviews and for the marathon, and we were only too happy to oblige! We delighted that Jamie wanted to honour his Scottish roots and that a Houstons kilt could play a part in such a fantastic event!
Jamie running for the One Fund Boston charity in his Houstons kilt
Jamie recently got in touch to thank us for our support and provided pictures of the event. Everyone wanted a photo with the man in the kilt! Houston’s would like to congratulate all who took part, participants collectively raised $91,000 an incredible amount of money!
There is a lot going on in Scotland as we prepare to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It will be great for the country and a great opportunity for many Scottish sportsmen and women training to compete for the games! Above all it will enhance Scottish patriotism as we cheer together at the games!
Yes folks it truly is a great time to be Scottish so wear your kilts (and trews) with pride! One customer summed it up perfectly for us when he said,
‘Kilts are a great conversation starter wherever in the world you are. Ladies love them.. And my Houston tartan trousers in my picture!’ Customer Scott Carmichael.