Tartans are an essential part of Scottish Highland dress. MacLeods carries items in over 500 clan and district designs, including blankets, bow ties, scarves, suspenders and more.
What is tartan? It is a pattern consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical stripes of varying width. Threads of different colours are woven in warp and weft, creating squares intersected by stripes. This distinctive pattern is known as a sett.
If you're from North America, you may be tempted to refer to tartan as plaid. However, the word has a totally different meaning in Scotland. There, plaid is a cloth slung over the shoulder, often worn as an kilt accessory. Sometimes a simple blanket is also referred to as a plaid.
Today, the distinct motifs are some of the most identifiable symbols of Scottish heritage. They are steeped in rich tradition and date back hundreds of years. They were likely being worn before the 16th century, though are not mentioned in historical text until a bit later on. Back then, the choice of tartan was more regional and based on availability and preference. In the mid-19th century, the prints obtained the modern association with which we are now familiar, becoming linked to families or clans.
But clans aren't the only groups to have their own tartan. Many individuals, corporations and institutions have also created their own unique patterns. It is estimated up to 7,000 exist, with 150 new ones being registered each year.
If you need assistance selecting a tartan, don't hesitate to contact us. We would love to help!