We just can't seem to stay out of the Scots' way

Apparently Weekend Mornings on CBC is good for something, especially if I've had my requisite three-cups-of-coffee.

Seems the Scottish are just being copied on just about everything they do these days. First, the whole "single malt whisky" fiasco, and now the whole concept of kilts.

The story on CBC this morning documented how the "kilt" industry wants to have certain...standards, to distinguish the real thing from cheap, knock-off plaid skirts. The proposed regulations would put the following limitations on what a "kilt" is. It's a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) case, much like "Parmesan" cheese or "Champagne". Here's a link to the February 28th story in the Idependent which introduces the concept.

The story on the radio today noted that three limitations would be put in place for a kilt to be a kilt:

1) It has to be made of pure wool;
2) It has to be hand sewn; and,
3) It has to be MADE IN SCOTLAND.

Oh, wait. Did I accidentally emphasize one of those? Oops.

Y'see, I'm under the impression that a certain kiltmaker in Cape Breton makes a fairly respectable product, but obviously would be making a phony under such regulation. I'm not sure if they've been directly involved or had the finger pointed at them, but they seem to be culturally "relevant" and not just out to make a buck on a shoddy product that "looks crap", as Scottish Nationalist Party MEP Alyn Smith says.

Being of dubious Scottish heritage, I do know the ins-and-outs of kiltmaking, and even visited a kiltmaking establishment when I toured Scotland in the mid-1990's. I didn't buy one, or even order one, but I did bring an order form home just in case I was to determine just what tartan my various family names could and would afford me (It's complicated.). The price, of course, topped $1,000 after I was fully accessorized, so at the time I had plenty of time to plan how I could embarrass any potential bride by demanding I wear the kilt for the Big Day (I never did.)

I recognize the cultural icon that the kilt is, and how it's become recklessly copied and bastardized along with the whole concept of the tartan (But hey, you can have one designed just for you or your company!), and while I don't see any problem having a separate code for "Genuine" kilts, I'm not sure this isn't another protectionist measure designed to keep prices high and borders tightly closed.

I guess Utilikilt and Kommando Kilts would be summarily shuddered at, so they're probably not fighting any sort of trademark regulation. Heck, if it comes right down to it, you could just make your own and thumb your nose entirely at 21st century marketing.

Maybe if it's not Scottish, it really is crap?

Posted bythemikestand at 7:39 AM  

5 stepped up to the mike:

Megan said... 11:22 AM, April 06, 2008  

Hmm, well I can definitely see why the real kilt makers would want to have their goods protected and I think they should be. However, I think the other cheaper versions worn by younger generations in particular are partly what is driving the whole Kilt Revival.

meegiemoo said... 11:34 AM, April 06, 2008  

Mmmmm...leather utilikilt.

themikestand said... 1:30 PM, April 06, 2008  

I sort of wondered how long it would take for someone to mention the leather utilikilt. Personally, if I thought I could get away with it, I might consider one. But really, I'm not sure anyone wants to see that.

V said... 7:30 PM, April 06, 2008  

I did a project in college, which led me and some classmates to the Utilikilt company. We were researching this exact notion: the alteration (and possible improvement?) of a cultural product. For one, those guys have no interest in making tartans. They just like the functionality (and freedom) of kilts, as do their consumers. The new kilt makers are still making it about culture and lifestyle though, but it's less about tradition and more about style and comfort- some of those kilt guys really despise wearing pants!

SRH said... 8:22 PM, April 06, 2008  

Don't the Irish wear kilts as well? I think they would be a might bit unimpressed with such Scottish regulation. "I need a kilt for the clan O'Brien."

"Sorry, Yer gonna haf ta goo ta Glascow fer thaut, laddie"

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