When I think of Scotland, I usually picture a kilt-clad man playing the bagpipes in a grassy field of rolling hills. I must admit that my expectations have not been too far off from reality.

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Explaining the pleating of the kilt.

We took a tour of the Kinloch Anderson storehouse in Leith today to learn about one of the most esteemed and successful kilt companies in the world. Each kilt is handmade and takes over eight hours to complete. They are made from several meters worth of tartans, and each tartan has a different significance.

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Tartan samples.

Each tartan communicates something different about the person wearing it. There a certain tartans for whichever district you live in, there are family tartans that are passed down for generations, there are tartans for different businesses and organizations, and even the Royal Family has their own tartan. Wearing the tartan for any of those reasons tells everyone what you are a part of and who you are. Michigan State actually has their own registered tartan, so it was interesting for us to have our own tie to the company and the Scottish culture today.

In America, a man wearing a skirt is absolutely unheard of. In Scotland, a man wearing a kilt shows his true masculinity and gains him respect from those around him. Men dress in kilts here like men in America dress in suits and ties. Scottish men almost always wear kilts when they get married, some on a daily basis. The kilts made by Kinloch Anderson are of such high quality that they sell for upwards of 500 pounds. That’s just for the kilt itself and doesn’t include any of the accessories and jackets that accompany it. In that sense, as well, the Scottish kilt is similar to wearing a suit in America. I will admit, the first time I saw a man on the street playing the bagpipes while wearing a kilt was kind of surreal. The epitome of Scotland.

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Kilts and female tartan skirts in the store.