From the Highlands to the High street

Posted on 09 March 2019

Tartan started out life a long, long time before Lola Ramona. There is no defined date for its invention and some tartans have been dated back well before the birth of Christ. However today there is no country more synonymous with Tartan than Scotland. Tartan has historically been worn by Scots for centuries but the tartan we know today has been widely used since 1600. This was worn by men and women in Scotland as regular day to day clothing.
In 1746 after the battle of Culloden, tartan was outlawed in an attempt by the British government to pacify the Highland Clans who were rebelling against the crown. It was only then allowed to represent the highland regiments of the British Army. From there it began to take on a different nature, than that of the highlanders who had worn it before.

 

Highland Dress piper

Tartan had become a symbol for wealth and the establishment, which is why its resurgence in punk culture in the 1970’s created such a contrast from its military and royal roots. It was used widely in fashion through the 1970’s and most notoriously by prominent punk icon Vivienne Westwood and her anti-government friends like Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. A key part of this tartan use was that it was not worn in any conventional sense, it was ripped and cut a clear statement against the establishment that tartan had started to so widely represent. Conversely of course this new political use of tartan was much more akin to its early highland adaptors who fought a similar but altogether different battle against the same British government, this time however, now removed by over 200 years.

 

  Johnny Rotten: The Sex Pistols

 

This punk revival of tartan reinvented its use in modern fashion, with its resurgence again in the 90’s grunge scene and it can now be found on the runways of all the major fashion shows as a staple of many collections. The late Alexander McQueen used tartan widely in his 95 collection ‘Highland Rape’ to portray the brutal clearances of Scottish highlanders from their lands in the 18thand 19thcentury.

 

Highland Rape 1995 Alexander McQueen

 

 Tartan has proved to be a quite durable material, spanning centuries of use from the highlands of Scotland to the catwalks of London and Paris, and it has been a political symbol on both sides of the divide. However today tartan is worn all over the world and is loved greatly, whether you are at a wedding in a kilt, at Hogmanay (New years eve) in Edinburgh with your tartan trews (trousers) or dress. Or if you really love a pop of colour and a fun design, tartan offers something for everyone. At Lola Ramona, tartan is an important part of lots of our designs and this season we are launching 3 new versions of our Ava Tartan shoe, so that we can carry on our arm of tartans vibrant history!

 

  See all Tartan Styles

  

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