Tartans have been woven by the Celts for over 3,000 years. Scotland is the global epicentre of tartan weaving, carried out under the watchful eye of the Scottish Tartans Authority. Made from 100% Pure New Wool, our tartans are woven in Scotland by Bute Fabrics Ltd, a contemporary fabric designer and manufacturer and recipient of the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise.
Established in 1947 by Lord Bute to employ servicemen returning from WWII, Bute Fabrics began supplying cloth to the fashion industry. The company later diversified into high quality furnishing fabrics, for which it is world-renowned. Bute’s world-class client list includes the HRH Queen Elizabeth II, the Royal Festival Hall, BAFTA Theatre, Prince of Wales Theatre, Brighton Dome, City Eco Hotels, The Sage, Gateshead (Norman Foster), the Scottish Parliament, NYC’s Metropolitan Museum, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Oxford Business School, Cessna, Stena Line, Heathrow Airport, JFK’s Virgin Lounge, BBC Studios, the X Factor show, and premium retail brands including Ted Baker, Bally, Liberty, Heals, Harvey Nichols and Monsoon.
Partnering with Liberation Kilt Company, Bute Fabrics is returning to its fashion industry roots, having recognised a strong resurgence of consumer interest in natural, lustrous wool, whose basic qualities remain unsurpassed by any other fibre. As a natural product and with no toxic substances used throughout its processing, the premium New Zealand cross-breed wool selected for our tartans is both hypo-allergenic and ecologically sound. New Zealand’s climate, environment and sustainable farming practices grow sheep that produce the whitest, brightest and cleanest wool in the world.
Our tartans are made from ‘worsted’ wool, that is, longer, finer fibres spun into a very tight yarn. Longer fibres means fewer breakages in the yarn, resulting in a smooth, lightweight fabric with a soft handle and high durability, offering superior value for money measured in performance years.
The journey from fleece to worsted fabric involves multiple steps and many skilled artisans. After shearing, the wool is ‘scoured’ to remove contaminants. ‘Carding’ converts the tangled mass of scoured wool into an even consistency. ‘Gilling’ aligns the wool fibres in parallel. ‘Combing’ removes unwanted short fibres, as well as seeds, leaves and twigs. ‘Drafting’ breaks the fibre bundles into smaller strands, which are shipped to specialists in Yorkshire for spinning and then to the Scottish Borders for dyeing. Owing to the natural brightness of the yarn, less dye is needed to achieve a vibrant finish. The final step is weaving, a process that has been refined over decades to ensure the cloth is smooth but dense, and flawless in finish. Weaving is carried out with state-of-the art technology to exacting performance and sustainability standards.
Bute Fabrics is accredited to ISO Regulation 9001, the Quality standard. Woven fabrics are inspected at three stages of production, and each and every metre is hand finished over lightboxes.
Bute Fabrics and its suppliers, spinners, dyers and finishers are accredited to ISO Regulation 14001, the environmental standard, and meet all environmentally favourable existing legislation and ordinances. Two of Bute’s fabric ranges have been awarded European Union (EU) Ecolabel status, a very rigorous environmental procedures standard requiring traceability of production and sourcing as far back the supply chain as the welfare of the sheep.
The spinning and weaving of wool yarns and fabrics uses only one tenth of the energy of synthetics. Synthetics are energy- and water intensive, use carcinogenic chemicals to produce and are not degradable.
Coming soon: tartans in Merino wool, lambswool, cashmere and Alpaca!