Liberation Kilt Co. (LKC) is a US corporation registered in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Founded in 2010, LKC reincorporated as a “Benefit Corporation” in 2016. A Benefit Corporation is a legal structure that formally aligns a company’s Articles of Incorporation (its legal DNA) with its social mission. Our social mission is to fight 21st-century injustices with the soft power of culture.
According to Section 13.1-690 of the Virginia Code, we are required to consider the short and long term effects of any decision upon our shareholders, our workforce (including that of our suppliers), our customers, the community and society in general, and the local and global environment, in equal measure.
We fight 21st-century injustices using a two-pronged approach:
First, our products are encoded with subtle messages designed to catalyse discussion among friends, family and strangers, which may lead to actions that promote human flourishing.
Second, we donate 50% of our profits to charities aligned with our mission, a philosophy inspired by two people: Kate Raworth, the economist who coined the phrase, “Be Generous,” and Kresse Wesling, co-founder of Elvis & Kresse, the British sustainable luxury brand that donates half of its profits to charity. They have proven this model can really work.
We reinvest remaining profits in artistic talent, the source of future growth.
During its first decade, LKC focused exclusively on the creative side of the business, beginning with the registration of the Keeling climate change tartan on 19 August, 2009:
“The Keeling tartan symbolises a wholesale shift in the energy basis of civilisation, from fossil fuels (grey and black track) to 100 per cent clean energy (green and yellow track). It is named in honour of the late Charles David Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, whose measurements from 1958 onwards supplied the first concrete evidence of rapidly increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, commonly known as the ‘Keeling Curve’. Today, ninety-seven percent of actively publishing climate scientists agree that man-made climate change is for real. Permission to adopt the Keeling name was graciously granted by his son, Ralph Keeling, director of the Scripps CO2 Program that continues the vital measurement series to this day.” The public benefit of this initiative is self-evident: by raising awareness and building public commitment to the cause, we can help accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels.
In the years that followed, several new tartans were designed and registered for a range of global movements, all tied into the idea of human freedom underpinning the liberal democratic tradition. Our Blueheart tartan was endorsed by the United Nations’ Blue Heart Campaign against Human Trafficking and led to an ongoing collaboration with UN House Scotland, a United Nations affiliate. Our Havel tartan, named after the late Czech playwright and former president, was endorsed by PEN International, the literary society defending writers of conscience around the world.
In 2015 we launched the Rebel Tartan Project, where art, fashion and design students use our tartans as a springboard for creative projects confronting global issues, from human trafficking to climate change to nuclear disarmament. Directed by Juliana Sissons, Fashion Designer-in-Residence at the V&A and external examiner at Central St Martins, the Rebel Tartan Project has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of students in the UK, France, India, China, and Japan, with positive spillover effects for their campuses and communities.
Inspired by the students’ creative work, in 2017 we began developing our first art collection around the theme of climate change, which is just starting to bear fruit (see below).
In 2019 we began a collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund UK, as part of its annual #PassThePanda campaign, and in 2021 we supplied its entire COP26 delegation with Keeling tartan scarves, canvas totes, apparel, and other goods.
Annual Benefit Report (2022)
In 2022 we focused on developing our art collection and built the partnerships and digital infrastructure needed to bring these artworks to the public in 2023. These activities were funded in part by proceeds from our collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (UK), 100% of which was reinvested in artistic talent.
Victory to Ukraine! art collection
“This war is for a way of life built on the ideal of freedom from destructive coercion by thugs like Putin. This makes it our war, too,” says Martin Wolf, a Financial Times columnist. In light of the yawning gap between the lofty rhetoric of western politicians and their actions, anything we can do to increase public support for the Ukrainian cause will confer a public benefit. With public sentiment, everything is possible; without it nothing is possible, as Abraham Lincoln said.
On February 26, 2022, we began working with a Ukrainian artist on a collection of more than twenty compositions that bear witness to the tragedy of war, shine a light on the courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people, and inspire the free world to stand with them no matter what. However, the public benefit of this initiative will not be realised until 2023, when the collection is made available for sale.
Climate Kunst art collection
“All the stuff of mainstream history—wars, revolutions, economies—is becoming a subset of the engulfing, elemental question: the fate of the earth; what humans have done to it; and what they may yet do to repair and redeem the damage,” says Simon Schama, the Financial Times columnist and broadcaster. “We are running out of time. But what we have not yet exhausted is what, in the end, makes us human: the great storehouse of visionary imagination.” Climate Kunst explores the existential climate crisis from multiple angles, through a series of capsule collections.
As examples, one capsule imagines butterflies, ants, elephants, and monkeys sending out an SOS to the world. Another depicts the global economy powered by 100% clean energy. A third celebrates the pollinators of our planet, from hummingbirds to beetles. A fourth pays tribute to Dr. Charles Keeling, the eminent climate scientist after whom our Keeling tartan is named. A fifth imagines a world in which the Golden Age of Sail never ended because fossil fuels remained undisturbed, deep underground.
As with the Victory to Ukraine! art collection, the public benefits of Climate Kunst will not be realised until 2023, when the collection is made available for sale.
No Tardis Req’d art collection
William MacAskill, a professor of moral philosophy at Oxford University, says we’re living through the global equivalent of the Hundred Schools of Thought, a golden age of philosophy in ancient China. “Different moral worldviews are competing, and no single worldview has yet won out,” he says. Society is like molten glass, which could be blown into many different shapes. “Whether it sets into a sculpture that is beautiful and crystalline or mangled and misshapen is, in significant part, up to us.” What’s needed, argues MacAskill, is a “morally exploratory” world: one structured so that, over time, better norms and institutions are more likely to win out. That is, norms and institutions underpinned by liberal values, as opposed to illiberal ones championed by the world’s autocrats, demagogues and despots, who make life a splendid misery for billions on a daily basis.
However, this morally exploratory world won’t come into being on its own. It will require much greater cultural and intellectual diversity, says MacAskill, and No Tardis Req’d is our contribution to the effort. Crossing centuries and cultures, this remarkable collection of historical prints is made possible courtesy of the David Rumsey Map Center at Stanford University, and a portion of the proceeds will support the David Rumsey Map Collection.
Note: to deliver on its mission to create a public benefit, Liberation Kilt Co depends on partnerships. While the company has taken great care in the selection of partners those values and priorities align with ours, we are limited in our capacity to influence their internal decisions, since we have no ownership stake, no voting rights, and possess incomplete information about their future plans.