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Tartan is not out of fashion nor is it just for men.

Tartan is not out of fashion nor is it just for men.


The Young Women's Movement echoes exactly this, so creating a tartan in the name of Edgar House for this brilliant charity was a truly wonderful project to be involved in.

The Young Women's Movement is Scotland's national organization for the leadership and rights of young women and girls. Its history dates back to 1924 as YWCA Scotland, and although it now has a different name, the organization is proud of what it has achieved over the last century.

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Tartans are, at their core, a series of numbers that create a unique pattern. Hidden within the Young Women's Movement tartan are numbers celebrating the organization's 100th anniversary.

The colors are bright and vibrant, echoing the positivity of the Movement. This was an important aspect of the tartan's design and allows it to stand out in a crowd of thousands of registered tartans.

I'm proud to see a charity for young women sporting tartan, something we usually associate with men's Highland clothing in the form of kilts. It’s exciting to see more women embracing tartan and making it their own!

My own career has been about preserving and respecting the past, while moving this iconic textile forward into a bright and exciting future. I believe in looking back and understanding what happened and where it came from, in order to move forward resolutely.

My role at Macnaughtons tartan designers and weavers allows me to do this every day, whilst working with our fantastic customers who are passionate about the world of kilts and tartan.

I graduated with a degree in textiles in 2018 and was disappointed at the lack of encouragement I received during my studies to pursue a career in Scottish textiles, our rich and enduring history of textiles in this country overlooked because that apparently out of fashion.

But I ignored these criticisms and, since graduating, have continued to work and study tartan. I began my career as a handmade kilt maker, learning to hand weave in my spare time so I could understand tartan down to the fibers it came from.

I am now a tartan designer for The House of Edgar, the Highlandwear division of Macnaughton Holdings.

Macnaughtons, like tartan, have a long and rich history. Founded in 1783 by the Macnaughton family in Perthshire, the business has stood the test of time.

Known around the world for the beautiful fabrics we create, our tartans are at the forefront of the Highlandwear industry. The head office remains in Perth and our weaving mill is located further north in Keith. I am so proud to be part of the Macnaughtons team.

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My career choice has opened up many opportunities for me, often in very male-dominated fields, from exhibiting alongside whiskey distilleries to meeting the king, to making television appearances for speaking about our fascinating culture and now as a trustee of the Scottish Tartans Authority.

I have reserved a small space at my work and have found so far that a young woman's voice has been well received. I hope I have set a positive tone for an exciting new chapter in the future of this industry.

A recent project that stood out in my role at Macnaughtons and as a trustee was the reconstruction of the Glen Affric tartan, the oldest specimen of tartan found in Scotland, dating from around 1500-1600.

We've brought this tartan back to life earlier in 2024. It's a piece of living history that people can enjoy again today.

I am proud to be and hope to continue to be a voice in the tartan world for the rest of my life, because it is so much more than just a job.

I am incredibly lucky that a lot of hard work, ups and downs and determination are paying off and I am able to design beautiful tartans that matter to people like those who are part of the Young Women's Movement every day.

Emma Wilkinson is a tartan designer for The House of Edgar. This piece was written on behalf of the Young Women's Movement which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.




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