The history and heritage of Kinloch Anderson tartan makers

28 November 2013
imports_CESC_0-bhb5vjej-100000_58549.jpg The history and heritage of Kinloch Anderson tartan makers
Deirdre Kinloch Anderson, director at Kinloch Anderson, a six-generation family firm of tartan makers which has been based in Edinburgh for almost 150 years, explores the history and heritage of the company. ...

Celebrating nearly 150 years at the forefront of Scottish clothing and textiles, Kinloch Anderson has been based in Edinburgh since 1868. From modest beginnings as men’s bespoke tailors, the global company is privileged to hold Royal Warrants of Appointments as Tailors and Kiltmakers to HM The Queen, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Prince of Wales.

Deirdre Kinloch Anderson is part of the fifth generation of the Kinloch Anderson Company of which her husband is Chairman and her younger son the Chief Executive, thereby representing the sixth generation of family ownership and management. Deirdre is a Director of the Company and was awarded an OBE for services to the textile industry in 2010.

   MORE: What tartan can I wear?


Kinloch Anderson first supplied the Royal Family in 1903 but it was in 1934 that a Royal Warrant was granted by HM King George V and subsequently by HM King George VI.The Royal Warrant is given as recognition of personal service of the highest order following the supply of product or services in significant quantity over a considerable period of time. It is granted to a named individual within the Company and there are strict rules which govern its use and display. 

The Royal Family have their own exclusive tartan, the Balmoral tartan, which was designed by HRH Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1857. 

It is the private property of the Royal Family and its use requires permission from HM The Queen. Kinloch Anderson hold this tartan in stock on their behalf and have tailored garments in it over very many years. The only person outside the Royal Family permitted to wear this tartan is the Sovereign’s Piper (pictured) whose Highland Dress outfits are supplied by Kinloch Anderson.

When the Company moved to its present headquarters in heart of Leith, the historic Port of Edinburgh, the Kinloch Anderson Heritage Room was created. This is a unique small museum which takes visitors through the firm's history as tartan experts, civilian and regimental tailors, skirt manufacturers and exporters, kiltmakers, suppliers to the Royal Family, designers of corporate and family tartans and now a company with a significant brand development in the Far East.


In the 1970s, as high quality clothing manufacturers, Kinloch Anderson became market leaders in the production of elegant, classic skirts and kilted skirts in an unsurpassed variety of tartans, tweeds, checks and plain colours. These were mostly sold in Europe, North America and Japan and in 1979 the Company received the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement. This specialist activity continues today although in a smaller production in Leith, with export sales predominantly to Russia and Japan.

With six generations of family ownership and management to its name, Kinloch Anderson has a history and heritage that is truly fascinating and unique.

Deirdre Kinloch Anderson is the author of 'Kinloch Anderson, a Scottish tradition: Tailors and Kiltmakers, Tartan and Highland Dress since 1868' published by Neil Wilson Publishing at £25.

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