OTHER SCOTCLANS SITES
14 October 1788 - Today in 1788 the first steamboat experiment was held on Dalswinton Loch. Robert Burns was farming at Ellisland, just outside Dumfries, when he was invited by his landlord, Patrick Miller, to go out in a small experimental steamboat. The boat, which was fitted with an engine designed by William Symington, was the first paddle-propelled steamboat in the world, and Robert Burns was one of its first passengers »
Edinburgh’s Royal Mile has been likened to an Eastern Bazaar (Article by the Scottish Tartans Authority)
Edinburgh City Council has recently spent £1.50 million on renovating the 120,000 individual cobble stones of the old High Street - the city’s world famous Royal Mile. To celebrate the completion, a time capsule has been buried under the street and in it are a police badge, a Starbucks coffee mug and . . . . a tartan scarf! Hopefully the scarf is an all-wool one woven in Scotland but if it came from the Royal Mile, you can never be too sure.
However, visitors will know that interspersed with these great Scottish icons are many stretches of pavement and shop front that look more like an eastern bazaar than much-loved architectural and historical gems. Stretches bedecked with tartan tat and special offers that defy belief . Probably the most bloodcurdling example is the ‘kilts’ for as little as £19.99. Gullible visitors must rejoice when they see what a bargain they’re getting . . . a Highland Kilt designed in Scotland and made from authentic woven tartan! If, instead of that label with its authentic Celtic border, they saw one that said “Acrylic skirt, woven in Pakistan” would they be so eager to buy it?
‘How do retailers get away with such misleading labelling?’ you might ask. The simple answer is that we don’t know! Let’s have a closer look at it . . . . the article it refers to is a sort of kilt and kilts do come from the Scottish Highlands. It is an authentic tartan — the Anderson tartan was designed in Scotland circa 1850. The fabric has been woven — albeit in Pakistan using an acrylic yarn that bursts into flames if ignited. The ‘kilt’, the tartan and even the label have all been designed in Scotland, so we can’t fault any of those statements in isolation . . . taken individually, each one of them is true and perfectly legal.
However . . . put them altogether and frame them with the Celtic border and you have an excellent example of what some would call ‘passing off’ . . . that is, pretending that an article is something that it is not. In this case, giving the very distinct impression that it is the genuine article - a Highland kilt woven in wool in Scotland.
To be fair, the retailers of these ‘kilts’ are not solely those traders with family connections in Asia. Amongst their number are more than a handful of dyed-in-the-wool (dyed-in-the- acrylic?) Scots who should know better than drag their national dress down to such a level. Since national pride and conscience seem scarcer than hens’ teeth in some parts of the Royal Mile, then at least we can rely on those local guardians of the shoppers’ rights, the City of Edinburgh Council . . . . or can we? When alerted to the problem their judgement was reported as being that no sensible shopper could possibly believe that the article in question was a real kilt. “Earth calling Edinburgh Council . . . . Earth calling Edinburgh Council. . . .”
Most weavers and kiltmakers have no objection to cheap ‘fun kilts’ appearing on the market, regardless of their country of origin or what they’re made of. After all, youngsters introduced to the ‘kilt’ through them, will no doubt graduate to the real thing one day. No . . . . the objection is that people are being misled into buying these cheap kilts under the impression that they’re Scottish and that the design, fabric and workmanship are the output of Scotland’s traditional weavers and kiltmakers. That is regarded as a travesty!