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April 6th is National Tartan Day

National Tartan Day is recognized by the US Federal government as an official holiday

It commemorates the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320. It is a recognized state holiday in numerous states and it was declared a recognized Federal holiday when the US Congress passed a resolution introduced by Trent Lott in 1998. It is a day for Americans to celebrate Scottish heritage and wear their kilts.

Guide to buying an economical mass-produced synthetic kilt.

by Kyle Rogers

Photo from 2011 East TN CofCC Celt Fest. Poly-viscose kilts from the Scottish Kilt Company. Purchased in Gaitlingburg, TN

Custom tailored wool kilts that are made in Scotland start at $400. The cost makes them prohibitive. It’s also risky doing the measurements yourself and mailing them to a tailor overseas. Once people spend that much for a kilt, many are afraid to wear it very often for fear of damaging it.

There are only a few mass-produced kilts, made in the style of a traditional Scottish short kilts, in the US that I know of. I have owned several.

There are Pakistani made kilts that are mass-produced in standard sizes. They are made of a “wool/acrylic” blend. The yarn used is very thick and the weave is fairly loose and can unravel some. They do seem to fit quite well, and they come with three straps. They are available in several size/length variations. The pleats hold their shape quite well, but not as well as the other two synthetic kilts I will mention below.

The Celtic Croft sells the Pakistani made kilts in Blackwatch for $99.99 plus shipping. Other tartans are available for special order for an extra charge. The Celtic Croft now has 100% acrylic kilts for $59.00.

The other Kilts available are poly-viscose. The most well-known is SportKilt, which are now worn by many professional Highland Games competitors in the US. The company also sponsors Rowdy Rody Piper and MMA fighter Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis. The kilts cost $89.99 to $129.50 depending on the size. They also have a stripped down version that is cheaper. The cheaper version does not have any straps or a fringe. The kilts are made on demand in the USA. I assume the fabric is imported.

The fabric is really nice. The downside of Sportkilt is that they put velcro in the front waistband of all their kilts. The velcro is uncomfortable and causes the front waist area to look lumping instead of laying flat. The kilts also do not have a tailored look. The waist and the hips are about the same size.

The best poly-viscose kilts are from the Scotland Kilt Company. The same company makes high-end custom tailored wool kilts. In my opinion their poly-viscose kilts are much nicer than Sportkilt kilts. They are very well made and look the most like an expensive tailored kilt. You can order them through the mail from Scotland for $67. Shipping is as low as $13. You can get them on, but they are $150. I don’t know where they are actually manufactured. All the high end stuff from this company is designated as made in Scotland, but for these kilts they don’t disclose where they are made.

There is a store in the tourist town of Gatlingburg, TN that sells them for $99.99 called the Celtic Heritage Shop. The store sells them through the mail, but they charge more for mailorder. They also offer a package deal at the store if you get a kilt with other accessories. Many of the kilts worn at the annual CofCC “Celt Fest” were purchased at the Celtic Heritage Shop.

There are also several “neo-traditional” kilts that have cargo pockets. The premier line is Utilikilt, which are manufactured in Seattle. They cost $200 and up. Utilikilt has two stores on the West Coast. They have several dealers and now being sold at most Scottish Games Competitions. There are also several Utilikilt imitations, some under $100.