Tartan: what is a "Restricted" tartan?

A “Restricted” tartan can mean many things. Some can be supplied under special conditions. Another might be supplied direct from its owner. Others (e.g. most corporate tartans) are not for public use. Please enquire for more information on a specific tartan.

If the tartan you want is not available, we can normally suggest a great alternative. This might be another existing sett that is equally appropriate for your heritage. Or we even can help you design your own new variant, at little or no extra cost.

Most family or clan tartans can be worn by anyone. Historic tartans are long out of copyright. And, in any case, the people who created them generally took the socially-inclusive and enlightened view that anyone wishing to belong to their extended family would be welcomed in. This is the basis of the age-old tradition of clan Septs. Thus the true Scot’s tartan has traditionally been about creating greater social stability and universal friendship, rather than about establishing divisive barriers.

Today, and sadly in many people’s eyes, some tartans are designed with more insular and exclusionary intentions. Corporate bodies perhaps have a legitimate concern to protect their company’s “brand”. But in other cases such restrictions clearly stem from a mere desire to limit the tartan’s use to ‘approved’ friends and affines. In our view this misguided attitude undermines Scotland’s deserved reputation for a friendly welcome and inclusive goodwill. It is particularly repugnant where an individual legally records and restricts a widespread surname, without specifying a local branch in their tartan’s title.

Legally, whilst in copyright, creators of new tartans have this right. And whether or not we can supply products in such tartans will depend on the policies, and indeed sometimes whims, of the copyright holder. In some cases the ‘owner’ of that part of our heritage may say no one else may ever wear it under any circumstances. In other cases they may give permission depending on the intended use. And in others we may be able to buy fabric from them, for example, to make into products for you.

So please enquire about the particular fabric you are interested in. We can then advise you, or make enquiries on your behalf. And in the event that the copyright owner is hostile to any such hand of friendship from you, we will be able to suggest more positive and inspiring alternatives.

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