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tartan

Tartan, history and tradition of a textile

Tartan must be included among the textiles that tell stories and old traditions. More than just a fabric, it is considered a traditional symbol of Scotland.
Its history is captivating and is about tradition and belonging.
The name comes from a pattern made with alternating coloured threads that form diagonal lines all-over the textile with distinctive patterns. The pattern of a tartan is called a sett, it is the same both in warp and weft and originally made of Scottish combed wool, strictly spun and woven in the Highlands, region famous for its green landscapes and for its stunning cliffs above the sea.
Although the real origin of this fabric is unknown, surely it has an ancient tradition in the Highlands. It was around 16th century that tartan became a symbol of national identity.
The different tartan patterns were used to recognize the inhabitants from different regions of Scotland and military units. Later it also became a way to tell the different Scottish clans, namely the different families living in specific areas of Scotland.
The link between clan and tartan dates back to Sir Walter Scott, Scottish author who explained how clan chiefs chose a tartan pattern that was then approved by Lyon Court, a standing court of law which regulates heraldry.
In 1819 were already registered about 250 different tartans. Nowadays about 4,000 are registered. Besides distinguishing clans, specific patterns were created for special events. For instance the Duke of Fife tartan, created on the occasion of the wedding of Alexander William George Duff, 1st Duke of Fife and Louise, Princess Royal, the eldest daughter of Edward VII. Besides clan tartans there are also mourning tartans, associated with death and funerals or hunting tartans that are used for hunting tend to be made up of subdued colours.
Once tartans were made only of wool. Nowadays they are made in many other materials, always with the same specific pattern in warp and weft, with threads of different colours.
Originally it was used for making traditional kilts, over the years this captivating and ancient textile has been reinterpreted in numerous ways.
In our tailoring house we mainly use it for creating jackets. The various colours and patterns give a unique original and eccentric touch to every garment, thanks to the different versions this textile that make every garment we make personal and special.