The long-established Selkirk-based textile house, Lochcarron of Scotland, is championing sustainability with the launch of its first 100% UK-sourced kilt.

FOR LOCHCARRON of Scotland, the recent launch of its new all-British wool premium kilt cloth was an exceptionally proud moment.

While the Selkirk-based business has been manufacturing for over 70 years, and championing the production of traditional tartan cloth from kilt to catwalk, it has never stopped innovating and has continued to push design and production boundaries.

As Dawn Robson-Bell, managing director of Lochcarron of Scotland explained: “We are proud to introduce our new all-British wool premium kilt cloth, woven locally at our mill in Selkirk.

“The wool is sourced and spun in the UK, giving us this valuable opportunity to support British wool growers and textile manufacturers across the UK.”

Lochcarron has developed its British wool yarn together with its spinning partner, Spectrum Yarns in Yorkshire. The yarn composition consists of approximately 75% Scottish wool from Lochcarron’s own native Cheviot sheep, blended with British Romney Marsh wool.

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“It’s a great breed, environmentally speaking, as it’s a mountain sheep so it’s not using arable land,” said Dawn, adding: “The British Wool depot, based in Galashiels, sorts through and grades the fleece. The raw wool is then cleaned and spun in Yorkshire before the freshly-spun yarn is delivered to us here in Selkirk.

“We then weave the cloth in our mill before sending the fabric for the final finishing stage carried out by our trusted partner Schofields Dyers and Finishers Ltd in Galashiels.

“This process is completed without compromising quality, supply, or service as we work to improve our ethical and sustainable credentials from fleece to fabric.”

With only 400 miles between the different processes it’s a truly homegrown product that supports farmers working in the wool industry in the UK where it has been widely reported that it can cost more to shear a sheep than is recouped from the value of the wool.

It’s the exact opposite of “fast fashion” with provenance at the heart of its story – and journey – as customers at home and overseas increasingly demand products that are 100% British.

While this new approach is “costing us a little bit more to produce”, Lochcarron is not passing it on to the customer as “we believe it’s the right thing to do”.

The search for an all-British product began pre-pandemic although the crisis did underline the risks of relying on wool from Australia and New Zealand. The climate in the southern hemisphere lends itself to farmers producing finer wools from different sheep breeds and so it is the more commercially mature market.

“We need to think about the value of what we do,” said Dawn. “You don’t get much more authentic than Scottish tartan, so if we can work on keeping the supply chain as local as possible while still making commercial sense, then it’s worth it.”