Our mission is to fight 21st-century injustices with an unlikely weapon that once opened eyes and changed minds: the soft power of culture. We create original artworks, transform them into enticing products, and donate half the profits–all with a pinch of humour.
“Life is too absurdly capricious to confront with high seriousness.” ~ Peter Aspden
Our muse and inspiration is a long forgotten 18th-century freedom fighter named ‘Loftus McLeod of Skye,’ whose legend lives on!
McLeod lived the quiet life of a crofter, but fell victim to the Highland Clearances–mass evictions of rural folk to make way for lucrative sheep farming. Most fled the country, but a few brave souls chose another path. They joined McLeod’s ‘Liberation Kilt Company,’ a grassroots movement with a bold mission: to fight injustice wherever it reared its ugly head. Members wore the kilt–an iconic symbol of freedom with many practical uses, among them wading across rivers, terrifying one’s enemies, and smuggling the crown jewels.
“Faireachdainn de shaorsa.” (Freedom is a feeling ~ old Gaelic proverb)
The movement grew by leaps and bounds, raising the ire of the king, who sent in the redcoats to snuff them out. Shipped off to northern Canada as punishment, McLeod seemingly vanished without a trace, and the Liberation Kilt Company passed out of all knowledge, until…
One day in the early 21st century, McLeod came out of hiding. Riled up by inaction on climate change, he joined a street protest against fossil fuels, where he met a kilted professor and invited him for a pint. The poor unsuspecting professor had no clue what lay in store for him.
“Every movement contains the seed of its own downfall,” said the ancient Scotsman between sips of IPA. “Take the environmental movement: it’s hopelessly fractured. Its factions must somehow be united. That’s the beauty, that’s the power of tartan textiles.” He told the story of how tartan was invented by nomadic Celts 3000 years ago, how it had served as a badge of identity for tribes of all stripes–from his own Liberation Kilt Company to the British armed forces, from the royal family to 70’s punk rock–and how it could be used to build the broad coalitions needed to effect change. The professor was amazed to learn how a simple textile could change the rules of social engagement–catalysing connections, conversations and concerted actions that otherwise would never have happened.
Energised by the possibilities, in 2010 they re-founded the Liberation Kilt Company and set about designing a range of tartans symbolising the hopes and fears of contemporary social movements fighting against the illiberal tide.
Like-minded people could wear these tartans to signal their values, show solidarity with the causes they cared about, and ‘be the change the want to see in the world’ (oh yes… and have tremendous fun into the bargain).
Learn more about our Origins
Keeling tartan: Named in honour of the late Charles Keeling, the eminent climate scientist, this tartan symbolises the shift from fossil fuels to clean energy and was adopted by the World Wildlife Fund for COP26.
Blueheart tartan: Named in honour of the United Nations’ Blue Heart Campaign against Human Trafficking, this tartan symbolises the collective heartbeat of victims of human trafficking.
Havel tartan: Named in honour of the late Vaclav Havel, the dissident playwright and celebrated essayist, this tartan protests the imprisonment of writers of conscience around the world.
Yamaguchi tartan: Named in honour of the late Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who survived both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this tartan transforms the nuclear hazard sign into a radiant symbol of hope for a world free of nuclear weapons.
Liberty Square tartan: Named in honour of the Occupy movement, this tartan symbolises the golden rule of contemporary capitalism: those with the gold make the rules.
Tahrir tartan: Named in honour of the Arab Spring protestors, whose spirit lives on from China to Iran, this tartan protests authoritarian rule everywhere.
Learn more about our Tartans.
In 2015 we launched the Rebel Tartan Project (RTP), an international collaboration of art, textile and fashion programs. Drawing on our tartans for inspiration, university students confront critical social issues in highly creative ways. RTP is founded and directed by Juliana Sissons, Fashion Designer-in-Residence at the V&A Museum and an external examiner at Central St. Martins, London. Participating institutions include Glasgow School of Art, Nottingham Trent University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Wimbledon College, Norwich University, Brighton University, L’Institut Supérieur des Arts Appliqués in Paris, Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo, Donghua and Wuhan universities in China, and India’s Pearl Academy. The programme will soon see representation from Africa and the Americas.
Inspired by the success of the Rebel Tartan Project, in 2018 we branched into Artworks. Our standout Victory to Ukraine! collection launches in February 2023, coinciding with the first anniversary of Putin’s brutal invasion.
Got cojones? Kilts are in the works–along with tartan blankets, throws and scarves, woven by a family-owned mill in Scotland.
We are a registered B Corporation, and donate half of our profits to charitable causes aligned with our mission.
Gach deagh dhùrachd (every good wish)