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  1. #1
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    What Drives Production of Tartan Variants?

    I was noticing that some of the more common tartans have lots of variant options (weathered, muted, hunting, dress) and some of the less common ones don't. Aside from raw demand, what drives availability of these variants?
    Clans: Armstrong and Guthrie on Father's side.
    Other heritage: Mostly German and some Polish on Mother's side.
    Kilts: One five-yard semi-traditional in Armstrong Ancient 13oz from Lochcarron

  2. #2
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    I think it's probably less 'demand' than 'Hey, we can sell twice as much cloth if we have a different variant of the same tartan.'
    Rev'd Father Bill White: Retired Parish Priest & Elementary Headmaster, lover of God, people (most of them!) dogs, joy, humour & clarity. Legion Padre, theologian, teacher, philosopher, linguist, dreamer, traditionalist, bon-vivant, encourager of hearts & souls & a firm believer in dignity, decency, & duty. A proud Sinclair.

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  4. #3
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    Are you asking about availability of design variants (hunting, dress), or colour variants (muted, weathered, etc.)? The former has to do with variations that have been introduced over time by various people and have become registered. The latter has to do with how much of a particular run each mill thinks they can do in bulk and sell without it languishing on the shelf for years.

    The colour variants like muted, weathered, reproduction, and others, are mill-specific. They just take the tartan setts and weave them with different shades of yarn. And they'll usually do a huge run, and keep it in stock for anticipated orders. Less popular tartans, they may not run unless someone orders it and satisfies the minimum order length.

    You can, of course, get custom runs in almost any tartan or colour variant. And if you order enough, the price per yard can be on par with what they keep in stock.

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  6. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Father Bill View Post
    I think it's probably less 'demand' than 'Hey, we can sell twice as much cloth if we have a different variant of the same tartan.'
    The UK may have a Queen, but cash is still King.

    I'll go back under my rock, now.
    "I can draw a mouse with a pencil, but I can't draw a pencil with a mouse"

  7. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by imbrius View Post
    I was noticing that some of the more common tartans have lots of variant options (weathered, muted, hunting, dress) and some of the less common ones don't. Aside from raw demand, what drives availability of these variants?
    I think in a way you've answered your own question, by pointing out that it's the "more common tartans" that have the most variants.

    Royal Stewart has to be the champion, with numerous variations, at least one going back to the 18th century.

    There's Prince Charles Edward Stuart, which is a variation of RS in the proportions.

    Then there are all the RS ground-colour variants, with the ground changed to royal blue (MacBeth), black, sky blue, white, grey, camel, green, etc.

    In the early 20th century the "ancient" or "vegetable" colour-scheme appeared and was immediately popular.

    Then beginning in the 1940s the "reproduction" or "weathered" colour-scheme appeared.

    House of Edgar introduced their unique "muted" colour-scheme.

    All of these palettes could be applied to any tartan, but as you say it's driven by the popularity or commonness of the tartans.

    Dress tartans (with added white stripes) are mostly seen with very common old tartans like Black Watch, MacDonald, and especially Gordon. I've seen Dress Gordon curtains, bed coverings, carpets, etc.

    Sometimes the palette is built into the tartan itself, one could say. The example I think of is Flower Of Scotland, which is a variant of Gunn in ancient colours. I can't recall seeing Flower Of Scotland in modern or weathered colours, though in theory these should exist.

    Then there are tartans which seem to defy being put into the trio of modern/ancient/weathered colour-schemes, like Isle Of Skye, despite its huge popularity.
    Last edited by OC Richard; 16th March 19 at 06:53 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  9. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post

    There's Prince Charles Edward Stuart, which is a variation of RS in the proportions.
    Or is the RS a variation of the PCE?

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  11. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by figheadair View Post
    Or is the RS a variation of the PCE?
    Very interesting!! Is there evidence as to which is older?
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  12. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post
    Very interesting!! Is there evidence as to which is older?
    Wilsons were producing both by c1790, I've examined a specimen of PCE which I date broadly to the mid-18th century, and there is a specimen of RS in the West Highland Musuem that is said to have been worn by the Prince. I've only seen the latter through the glass and not yet had an opportunity to examine it in details but it lookss to me to be later, possibly c1800. So my money is on the PCE being the older setting.

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