Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

English Find a Kilt Cool

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

English Find a Kilt Cool

Article excerpt

Byline: By Vicky Pepys

Vicky Pepys explores south of the border

You'd expect Scotland to be the world's chief exporter of the kilt.

It's taken extremely seriously by heritage enthusiasts and often hilariously by those who have no experience of it.

The age-old question of what's worn under a kilt always raises a smile, but here's the age-old answer. Shoes and socks!

But the kilt is never ignored or overlooked.

To find that Highland Hire in Cramlington, Northumberland, is the biggest exporter and hirer of kilts outside Scotland comes as something of a surprise

"Northerners are the biggest wearers of kilts outside Scotland," says Aberdeen-born Nigel Nicol. Nigel is the managing director of Highland Hire and its parent company Scotch Corner, of the MetroCentre, Gateshead, and Newcastle city centre, and he is as surprised as anybody.

Nigel, who was educated in Durham, opened Scotch Corner 10 years ago on his return from years as a luxury-hotel developer in the Caribbean, with an idea to profile rare gifts from Scotland.

Within days of his first branch opening in the MetroCentre, customers were asking to hire kilts.

"At that time, Highland wear was only available from the likes of Burtons or Moss Bros, but we began to invest in stock as demand increased," he says.

"We started off buying what people wanted to hire, so the stock was standard, to say the least. But we currently have 15,000 kilts for sale and hire and 150 different types of sporrans."

The bestselling and hired tartan in the North is, of course, the black-and-white Northumbrian, which is more formally known as the Shepherd's Tartan.

"The North seems to have adopted this tartan as its own," says Nigel. "It's a basic dogtooth plaid."

Is it popular because it is black and white? Or because it's more subtle?

Many families can still trace their Border connections and wearing a kilt is an ideal way to show a family's heritage. …

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