Kilt in the field
Image by: ACME Atelier

The craft of kilt making from generation to generation

By Jack Stott - 06 July 2021

Founder of ACME Atelier, Creative Entrepreneurship course alumna Andrea Chappell shares how passion and tradition combine in continuing the historic craft of kilt making.

I found my niche in the design world by bringing curious minds and craft makers hands together within environmental design for museums and heritage sites, which for the last 20 years has been my playing field. Since 1999 I’ve been collaborating with artists and designers to interpret the stories of people and places across the world and the epilogue to each of them has been the making of a kilt.

My grandad was an Argyll & Sutherland Highlander who handed down his regimental kilt to my mother, which then passed to me. In the 60s and 70s, my mother wore hers and made ours and it was her timeless fashion that fostered my love for kilts that spans nearly three decades—which is an awful lot of kilts!

In my early days, I commissioned my kilts from the modern kilt pioneer Howie Nicholsby, until I began training at the Keith Kilt School to learn the traditional, handstitched art of kiltmaking for myself. I focus on exploring contemporary interpretations of traditional kiltmaking practise, whilst upholding this historic craft skill. I fuse it with contemporary design to promote a responsible, resourceful means of production on a small, sustainable scale. Many of my kilts are commissioned to celebrate special life events, designed to last more than one lifetime—passed on from generation to generation as they were in my family—with each kilt entirely handmade in Scotland.

Part of this endeavour is my remaking initiative, IV36, which refers to the post code of Forres where I live and the range of textiles that have been redesigned, restored, and remade by hand from existing garments. Importantly, every purchase bearing this label returns 20% of the profits to support a young person in my hometown so that they too can undertake formal training as a kiltmaker, as I did, at the Keith Kilt School. I hope that, through this circular fashion initiative, new generations can engage with this heritage craft and other crafts, providing a valuable creative opportunity in an area where there are few, alongside promoting a truly sustainable and regenerative system.

RGU's Creative Entrepreneurship course provided valuable tools to develop this initiative—it consolidated my business practise, helped me to implement a strategic vision, and instilled the confidence in me to transfer what began as a personal tradition into a passion that has now become my profession.

Cookie Consent