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Tartan fashion – a vintage inspiration

December 7, 2015

The festive season always brings out the nostalgic and traditional pattern of Tartan. It’s always a winner in knitwear ranges, showcasing a mixture of designs and colours perfect for cosy winter accessories. This iconic pattern is a symbol of Scottish culture and has become a fashion statement with luxury designers such as Burberry bringing tartan fashion to the catwalk.

Tartan fashion – The tartan craze

The royal family regularly pays homage to the importance of tartan in their visits to the country. Earlier royalty including George IV made the design quite popular due to his fondness of wearing tartan attire on his visits to Scotland. During Victorian and Edwardian times, tartan featured in fashion catalogues and at this time it was a big influence in women’s fashion rather than focused on men’s attire. Tartan was associated with British aristocracy and military so had an influential and exclusive feel to it.

Tartan fashion – tartan throughout the decades

Tartan fashion has featured in many decades throughout its existence. It has always been a popular design, yet has taken a back seat during iconic eras with reappearances at key points during fashion history. A defining moment for tartan fashion emerged in the late 1970’s during the infamous punk fashion faze. In this decade tartan became an expression of an anti-establishment movement and a rebellious factor against its regal associations.

Designer collections

There are several modern fashion designers that have developed their own iconic tartan styles into their catwalk collections. One of the most well-known tartan prints was developed in Burberry’s iconic collection. This distinctive print has been one of the most widely copied trademarked designs in fashion and still features in many of their pieces. Most famously the Burberry trench coat developed during the war became a statement piece for the general public with the infamous tartan print gracing the interior of the coat.


Another high end designer Vivienne Westwood became synonymous with tartan design. Her catwalk collections featured outlandish and vivacious tartan print that saw early 90s supermodels Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss strutting the red carpet in numerous tartan creations. Since this vibrant rebirth in tartan, this vintage fashion design has seen popular growth with a selection of women’s attire featuring the iconic design.

Modern fashion

Autumn/winter seasons always flourish with tartan design, whether that’s a thick knit scarf or a traditional tartan pinafore. Modern classic influences are filtering through to retailers with A-listers sporting various examples of tartan colourings and print. The red carpet has also seen shimmering and glitzy examples, yet again adding a new spin to tartan fashion.


Tartan fashion will always be an influential design in modern fashion. It has strong, cultural inspirations and has become a defining feature in the UK fashion industry since its origins. There are tons of original vintage tartan examples from basic check shirts to punky tartan trousers, perfect for anyone wanting to create this iconic look.



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