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Reflections in a kilt

About the blog

This weblog is mainly to describe slices-of-life in a kilt and with the objective, of course, that more men shall make the kilt a valuable addition to their wardrobe.

The more we are the easier it is.

Is kilt making in Scotland on its way down?

Uncategorised Posted on Wed, February 10, 2021 08:40:12

It might very well be the case. At least two major kilt providers are now concentrating on imported kilts. In September or October last year Kilt Society stopped taking orders on their fine custom kilts and shortly afterwards Heritage of Scotland, without notice, had stopped too. I have bought several excellent made-to-measure kilts from Heritage of Scotland, when they were still branded John Morrison.
No doubt, competition from Far East in general and through 2020 and continuing in 2021 the Corona pandemic must be a big problem, the latter especially for kilts to be worn at special events, which to a great extent must have been cancelled and with 2021 so far worldwide looking problematic, too.
I don’t know how enterprises like Kilt Society and Heritage of Scotland are organized. I always thought that they had their custom kilts made by kilt makers working free-lance, at home, but if they have been on the payroll, it is obvious that no or few orders mean that fix cost must be reduced. And probably starting before Corona.
When I was a customer at Heritage of Scotland delivery time for a John Morrison kilt was max 42 days or 6 weeks. And contrary to many other vendors they delivered on time or earlier. Later it could be “anything between 9 and 15 weeks”, as far as I remember their website. Most unsatisfactory, of course, and one reason why this vendor to me turned out to be a less obvious choice.
Longer waiting times could be because of growing demand, but more likely, it was due to fewer kilt makers working within the company, eventually ending up with no one at all. Again, meaning departure from this part of the business.
There are still Scottish providers of custom kilts, also at reasonable prices. But otherwise, it might become a market dominated by “imported” kilts, being they ready-made or sewn-to-measure. Like it is the case with other clothes, from cheapest ones to most expensive brands.
And are kilts worn the way I think they should be worn, as daily attire or attire for the spare time, rather than for too seldom occurring events, the condition is affordable kilts.

Kilts and Brexit

Uncategorised Posted on Tue, February 09, 2021 18:49:34

If you are living in the UK or in the US or Canada, Brexit probably has meant nothing regarding prices on kilts and accessories. But to European Union citizens like me it has. Where it until January 1, 2021 was just about ordering what you wanted, pay at check out and wait for it to be delivered, it had not only become more complicated, but it has also made things from UK more expensive – and that despite the “free trade” agreed upon in the very last minute, so to speak.
Yes, there is no customs duty to pay when you buy from an English or Scottish seller – provided the good is manufactured in UK from components, made in UK. And how do you know?

Buying a kilt made in Pakistan from a British vendor means customs duty and VAT hereof. Fortunately, only if the price of the kilt does exceed 150 Euros equalizing about 120 GBP. And, fortunately, hardly any Pakistani made kilt amounts to that. But be careful not to order accessories together with it, which might also be “imported” and could therefore bring the total value above the limit.
And even if no customs duty applies, you must pay local VAT and a customs clearance fee, which might be around 18 GBP. Make sure that the seller has deducted British VAT, before you pay!
The VAT rate of your EU-country might be lower, the same or higher than the British VAT. But one thing is for sure, every online purchase in UK is now around 18 GBP more expensive than before Brexit. On a kilt costing 250 GBP it is 7% more. But on a sporran, costing 25 GBP it is 72% more!
Probably, spontaneous purchases by EU-citizens shall become rare. Unfortunately.

Dare you order a kilt, made to your measures, online?

Kilt wearing Posted on Sat, August 29, 2020 11:37:03

Dare you order a kilt, made to your measures, online?
I did. And, based on many experiences, I do. Just take care when you take your measures, and preferably double-check them, before you, by pressing “enter”, have ordered a kilt. And even if perhaps not 100% correct, there is always some give and take.
As a matter of fact, only some Scots, Americans, Australians, and Canadians living within a reasonable distance from a kiltmaker, do have the possibility of having their measures taken by a professional. And believe me, it isn’t that difficult, at all.
Follow the instructions, given by the vendor. You might also find advice here:

Kilt Society takes it from the positive angle, 5 good reasons why you should buy a kilt online. They make sense.

Summer kilt

Kilt wearing Posted on Thu, August 20, 2020 08:10:45

This year we have a hot summer with many days where temperatures have exceeded 25 C (77 F) and even reached 30 C (86 F). And it is up here in Northern Europe. In Italy, Spain and on Balcony it is much warmer, much longer, and each summer.

For enthusiastic kilt wearers such heat is no good. Unless you adjust to reality.

Not only are 8 yards of heavyweight 16 oz. fabric far from being comfortable, but people around you in shorts and skirts and t-shirts and in sandals or sport shoes shall either feel pity for you or find it absolutely ridiculous if seeing you in full Scottish costume. I did feel sorry for a guy whom I two years ago saw in Croatia and such dressed. If he had been on his way to a wedding or the like, it had been understandable, but nothing indicated, he was. He was a tourist and it was obvious that he did not feel at ease.

Purists might not have accepted how I was dressed, but this poor fellow might have been the only one representing them in town. I’m pretty convinced that the tens of thousands of other people being around town that afternoon have wondered less about my way of dressing.

I was wearing my Original Sport Kilt, the kilt coming from hot Utah in the US. It is made of an 8 oz. fabric, feeling, and looking, like flannel. In my case it has invisible, deep slide pockets, meaning no need for a sporran.    

Traditional kilt hose should have looked just as out of place as a heavy weight kilt – to my opinion. Therefore, no kilt hose, but short socks, or invisible socks, thin knee-high socks, or no socks.

This Summer, due to Corona spent in our own country, but with the warmth of Southern Europe, my preferred summer kilt is again my Sport Kilt.

Summer 2020

For information: Buying a Sport Kilt is very much like buying a car. Paying just the basic price it can drive but not much else. If you buy a Sport Kilt at the basic price, you’ll have a very basic kilt. Mine has added features like sewn down pleats, belt loops, fringes, and, as most important and already mentioned, invisible slide pockets. The tartan is called Loch Ness.

My cheap non-value “Value” kilt from Tartanista

Kilt wearing Posted on Sat, August 15, 2020 13:34:08

It is about 13 months since I received my Tartanista “Value” kilt. It is lightweight, feels fine to wear, buckles and straps are of OK quality, sewing quality could have been better, but what can you expect for £25?
Well, the problem is the fabric. Acrylic fabrics tend to peel. But this one really, really peels. Never dream of wearing a sporran with this kilt. Just once and the fabric looks worn.
I started being overall satisfied with the kilt, but wearing it today and looking down at it, I must say that even for that little money I haven’t got enough value, if any!

How much kilt can you get for £16.95?

Kilt wearing Posted on Mon, July 22, 2019 07:50:28

I have decided to find out. Tartanista in London is selling their “Value kilt” range at prices starting at £16.95. In order to have it that cheap, you must be pretty slim, however. A 30” waistline isn’t much for a grown up man. Two inches more and you are two pounds up. And from 34” through 42” the price is 22.95. That’s probably where most of customers are. For men of some substance, between 44” and 48” you have to pay one pound more and when ii cannot be larger, at 50”, the kilt shall cost you £24.95. But still, less than £25 for a kilt is cheap, whatever the size.

Yesterday I ordered it.

Tartanista I know already. I have bought a few sporrans from them. And they have been good and cheap. And I have bought a Tartanista forest green kilt many years ago. To the price it was fine. I haven’t used it very much, however. It was to the tight side. When buying other off-the peg kilts ordering them one size down has always given a better fit. This time I have followed Tartanista’s sizing instructions, so let’s see.

What made me interested in ordering a new kilt was the fact that the Tartanista Value kilts you can now have shorter and longer than the otherwise standardized 24”. Well, only in one tartan, Black Watch, but a start it is. Mine to come is 22” short.

I know already that this kilt shall involve a compromise. The pleats are – according to the pictures – not sewn down. And nowhere are they told to be. And therefore they shall not be, I’m sure. No doubt, the sewing down process is time consuming and cost ineffective and contradicting a starting price of just 16.95 British pounds.
I never had a kilt without sewn-down pleats. How obvious shall it be that it has not? Shall it make a difference on windy days? I’m going to find out.

How about accuracy of the pleating? Black Watch is probably not the most difficult of tartans when it comes to arrange the pleats to the sett. But again, let’s see.

And the fabric itself? Shall it feel nice? Look nice (enough)? In seven to ten days I’ll know. And I’m going to tell you.

How many are actually going commando under kilts?

Kilt wearing Posted on Fri, June 22, 2018 09:17:34

Commando or not?

The never ending question, but in fact there is an indication in a YouGov research from 2016, according to which no less than 45 per cent of Scottish men voting for independence in the 2014 referendum stated that they ‘go commando’; whereas 32 per cent of those voting No will do.
Under the condition that the 45/55 result for independence also applies to men; it means that almost 38% of Scottish men should go commando under kilt – and nothing being said about frequency – at least sometimes.

Shooting oneself in the foot?

Kilt wearing Posted on Sun, June 17, 2018 07:39:00

A quality kilt, sewn by a Scottish kiltmaker shall last you a lifetime; and it might go on to generations.

Something like this is what you often see when looking for a kilt.

No doubt, it is thought to be an argument justifying a high investment in a kilt. But should it really make sense to you as a customer?

Well, if you keep your size all life and the kilt shall not only fit next generation but also be interesting for a son or grandson to wear; it may. But how likely is it? Don’t forget the importance of the correct fitting when having your kilt made exactly to your measures. And the very thought of caring for your precious kilt might probably mean that you should only use it at few and very special occasions.

But is it a clever argument from the perspective of the kiltmaker, then? No. It is an extremely bad one, in fact; at least a most short-sighted one. Could you imagine a manufacturer of anything else being interesting in selling no more than one of his products to the same customer – and his heirs?
Like me, I’m rather convinced that you cannot.

And, somehow absurdly, even the cheapest kilt, worn only twice a year could serve you a lifetime and be handed over to next generation. It wouldn’t look as good as that fine and expensive kilt. It would never have. But that is quite another story.

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