I’ll never forget watching a family of Americans at a Scottish Highland Games event in Ontario hold kilts inches from their faces, examining the patterns carefully to make sure they didn’t by the wrong clan’s tartan. I learned quickly that I did not have this skill and, characteristically, gave up without much effort. The need for a true kilt expert, however, was painfully obvious. This small memory from a decade ago, popped back into my head when I entered 21st Century Kilts in Edinburgh.
Howie Nicholsby comes from a long line of kilt craftsmen, though five minutes with him shows you that he cannot be contained by tradition (or anything else). A keen eye for detail puts the right clan on your body, but his sense of style opens Scotland‘s traditional garb to new ideas that few have imagined.
I tried on the “desert camouflage” kilt (yes, I wore it like a “true Scot”). I figured it would be a bit breezy and was surprised to learn just how hot it can be under the garment. The higher quality kilts are quite heavy, requiring a considerable amount of fabric to produce. Thus, they tend to fetch high prices. The one I tried on (but didn’t buy) would have set me back close to $400, though currency swings would probably bring it closer to $300 today.
Without a doubt, the prices are pretty rough, and there are less expensive kilts available in Scotland (though there is a lobbying effort in progress to limit what can be called a “kilt” to those manufactured in Scotland according to specific standards). You get what you pay for, according to Howie, and spending less than $100 will result in a noticeable lack of quality.
So, if you find yourself strolling the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, poke your head into 21st Century Kilts. Howie will have you rolling in laughter, and he’ll probably have you in a new kilt by the end of your visit.