Tart-A-n POLITICAL - Prickly Thistle

Tartan and politics today. What’s our stance? Let’s talk about it.

Politics in Scotland is nuanced and complicated, sadly it has been for centuries and still is today. It has been put on a World stage which has emboldened many to project this onto us as tartan makers…. so we feel we need to make a few things clear.

Tartan has been heavily politicized over the years. First, it was transformed from a humble native cloth, to a representation of Highland resistance during the Jacobite movement, then appropriated as a symbol of mystical savagery through the Victorian age, and then again as punk rebellion with anti-establishment sentiments in the wake of the Vivienne Westwood era.

Everybody loves to make tartan political. But we as an organisation are not. We are part of a community of domestic makers in Scotland who act as custodians for the textile’s authenticity and integrity – we feel we must protect this from the weight of alignment with a specific political party. Despite the past, we believe tartan should not be forced to be a vessel for specific agendas anymore, just collective liberation through a much bigger picture. Our heritage is for all Scots, all over the world.

We are makers of craft. We are activists. Guess that makes us craft-ivists! And our mission is clear:

We work for climate justice that nurtures a fashion and textile industry free of fossil fuels. For a revived Scottish textile industry that is environmentally sustainable, community focused, employs well-looked after people and doesn’t stand for overseas exploitation.

This leads us to share engagements with politicians of various parties now and then to call out issues affecting our mission and push for change. We do not solely work with one political party and we have good reason for that. Why limit the scope for change? If someone wants to talk about creating a healthier planet, we are going to listen. It goes beyond what badge they pin to their (hopefully natural fibre but likely not) shirt. If they align with our values, we are going to engage in a conversation if we think it could make the change we need to see.

Pretenders we are not. We will not have passive allegiance. We will call anyone out, and allow ourselves to be called out too – no pedestals here! Just putting planet and people over murderous profit. We can argue until the cows come home about the distinct identities of each political party, but none of that will matter if one day the planet gives up.


Clare and the Team


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