Unfortunately, through the years with workrooms closing kiltmakers were expected to work from home and were now being paid per kilt. As new retail shops opened and not many of the older salespeople in the original kilt shops left. Not many of these salesmen and women quite knew what goes into a kilt or how long it takes to make one. As far as a lot of them were concerned it was just little old ladies sitting at their kitchen tables doing a little bit of sewing for pocket money, or as one kilt retailer called it ‘gin money’ yes that was said. Due to this attitude and the isolation of the kiltmaker it led to very poor pay so much so that a kiltmaker could no longer afford to take on an apprentice as they could not afford the time or any future competition. Which has now led to traditional Kiltmaking being put on an endangered list of crafts that could die out.
We wanted to offer a safe place and support to those who might be feeling isolated as well as open our doors to them to use our space and get to know one another. By creating this community, we could educate the public and make sure that retailers pay and respect the kiltmaker.
Keeping the tradition of hand stitched kiltmaking aliveHere at The Kiltmakery we are promoting the craft of kiltmaking as well as providing wider education so people know the difference between a traditionally hand stitched kilt and a machine sewn. We demystify the process of kilt making for the consumer and provide the kiltmaker with an environment where they can work together to further their craft and creativity. By doing this we are able to bring more work to Scotland making a viable career for many kilt makers.
What we do not doHere in Edinburgh I can go into the city centre and buy a kilt for less than £50. This is not what we sell or make here. There is nothing wrong with companies selling the cheap imported ‘kilts’ as long as people know this is what they are buying.
A Kilt is for Life: The ‘Buy Once’ Philosophy We live in an age of disposable clothes and rapidly changing fashions … red is the new black etc. etc. We want to react against this – to go back to cherishing an item of clothing – to celebrate the craftsmanship. At home I have a kilt that is around 200 years old, it still looks amazing. I don’t think I could say this about any of the clothes I own today.
Ethical Kilts – what we believeHere at ScotClans and The Kiltmakery a kilt is made by one kilt maker. People may be shocked to learn that many places selling hand stitched kilts are using a group of kilt makers who work in a line, each one just making one element of the kilt. This means that an employed kiltmaker finds it hard to leave their job because they lack the skills to make a kilt from start to finish. The quality of the kilt suffers when a kilt is not made by one person.
We need to find more work for the kiltmaker – By working together we are able to take on larger orders and have consistency. Up to now many kiltmakers work in secrecy and no longer train others up, work is scarce and competitive. People selling kilts need to change the way they work, you can’t expect people paid less than the minimum wage to fully care about the quality of their kilts – why should they. We have heard of kilt makers refusing to put over a certain number of pleats in their kilts to try and cut back the time it takes. Corners are cut and the kilt is not of a high quality. The kilts bought through The Kiltmakery are all made to the highest quality and the kilt maker is paid well for their work. We respect the kilt maker and this is shown in the quality of our kilts.
At ScotClans and The Kiltmakery we offer talks on the history and evolution of the kilt as well as Scottish Clans and Scottish History. We attend Highland Games in Scotland and the USA.