Kilts Are Trending, So We Spoke To The Young Designer Who Is Making Them Cool
The Debrief: Le Kilt launched just a year ago, but designer Samantha McCroach has already put kilts back on fashion's radar
Kilts are actually having a bit of a moment - Lidl launched their own kilt range (they cost just £29.99 - though we're yet to feel how good quality they are) and queen of fashion Vivienne Westwood praised Prince Charles' impeccable style - his Royal Highness is always dropping his trews in favour of donning a little tartan number.
I'm guessing you've never tried to buy a kilt. I hadn't, until I agreed to marry a Scottish bloke, and found out what a pain in the arse it is trying to find one in England. I'm also guessing your experience of kilts in general is pretty limited - until this year, mine ammounted to a brief fling with another Scottish bloke (I've got a type, ok?) who wore one once, which is how I discovered they're ridiculously heavy. And a work of real architecture, what with all those hundreds of pleats going on.
I bet you also didn't know now that there are 3.5m of fabric in every kilt, and that to make a real one (not one of those flimsy pleated skirt things masquerading as the real deal) you need super-charged tailoring skillz. Personally I always thought kilts were a bit weird, like lederhosen but for Scots, but now, I desperately want one for myself. And I want one from Le Kilt.
Le Kilt is one of the most hotly anticipated presentations on the London Fashion Week schedule this year. Samantha McCoach, who founded Le Kilt just a year ago, has been spotted as a designer who is doing something completely different to all the other new-comer cool thangs, because she makes just one item, a traditional item, but it's the freshest thing we've seen in a long while. Le Kilt kilts are designed for women using traditional kilt making techniques, but using a mix of traditional and contemporary fabrics, and they're styled up to look ridiculously cool.
'I was pissed off with always seeing badly made versions on the highstreet,' says Sam, whose granny was a kilt maker on Edinburgh's Royal Mile for 30 years, making kilts that would be sent to Harrods. 'I grew up wearing tonnes of tartan stuff that my granny would make me, so we made 12 kilts together in all different colours, held a party for all my friends, and launched the brand.'
Sam graduated from the RCA in 2010, with a BA in womenswear, and was savvy enough to spot a gap in the market. 'Everything about my brand is really real - I'm from Scotland, we use one of the last kilt making workshops, in Glasgow, and I'm the only kilt making brand with that story and heritage behind it.' She's not wrong. You can even try heading to Savile Row offering to pay for a custom made kilt that will cost you more than a month's rent, and they will still direct you to Scotland. 'Kilts get a bad rep for a few reasons,' explains Sam, 'firstly because there aren't many places to buy them, and secondly because they've become associated with weddings and national dress, almost like a costume.'
So why did she take on reviving the kilt? 'I've always been really interested in sub-culture fashion, and a kilt should be a staple piece in every woman's wardrobe because you can wear them with everything - they're part of my daily uniform,' says Sam. Check out the website, and you will see them styled up with long sleeve Ts, sweaters and camis, and Sam often wears hers with her Nike trainers, while Susie Bubble wears her Le Kilt over jeans and looks amazing. She's right - once you start looking at them, you can see how one would fit seamlessly into your wardrobe.
Sam's presentation in a few weeks is set to be the first big moment of recognition for the brand, and given the sound of it, it's going to turn some heads. 'I got the name of the brand from an old Blitz Kids club in Soho during the 80s punk era, and so we're going to hold the presentation in a cool french restaurant there, and maybe we will serve whiskey Irn Brew cocktails,' laughs Sam. 'That club scene in the 80s was really inspirational to me, and I want it to feel like a modern version of one of those Le Kilt club nights.'
We won't be the only ones on the guestlist, however. 'My Granny is coming down for the presentation!' says Sam. 'Every time I go home, she teaches me more and more, I'm still learning in comparison to her - she would still say that I'm terrible,' laughs Sam. 'I'm keen to see where I can take the brand, I want Le Kilt to be accessible to lots of women, and in the future I'd like to see it as something pretty big - otherwise what's the point?'
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