How the Scottish Fashion Industry is Evolving

| With ceremonies such as The Scottish Fashion Awards becoming a bigger and better deal, it’s no surprise that the industry is advancing to a place far from the Scottish stereotype.

A brief history of the fashion and textiles industry in Scotland and how the nation is moving forward, from sustainability to sexuality.

Scotland has always been renowned for its luxury textiles, from cashmere to wool and tweed to tartan, the fashion world has often looked to Scotland for high-quality fabrication. The country also pioneered what are now legendary fashion staples, like the kilt, the paisley pattern and Arran knitwear. Unfortunately, Scottish fashion is always simply associated with tartan, but there is so much more to be explored. From Kelly Dawn Riot’s botanical print menswear and Laura Ironside’s dreamy designs to Isolated Heroes’ sequin and faux fur fantasies and Karen Mabon’s cartoon silks.

As much as it is great to celebrate heritage, and of course attract foreign markets with archetypal Scottish classics, but dwelling on the past too much can slow down true innovation, so it is time to evolve. The ethical fashion movement is finally making brands take notice of quality over quantity, and that’s where Scotland comes in. With some of the finest weaving mills (think Harris Tweed) and the cream of the crop in dyeing and finishing, luxury labels with a keen eye for artisanal craft, like Chanel, are looking to move manufacturing away from sweatshops and back to family-run businesses in the Scottish Borders.

The creatives in Scotland’s fashion industry to keep an eye on for the future are those who are proud of their heritage but looking internationally for inspiration and pushing the boundaries of design for the future. Fashion Foundry’s alumni Rachel McMillan is utilising sustainable textiles like Bamboo silk to create sustainable fashion with a desirable aesthetic. Birds of Prayers produce a range of gender-neutral, one-size-fits-all garments, and Barbra Kolasinski uses faux and real furs to design beautiful outerwear.

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Finally, Scotland plays host to many amazing art schools providing fashion courses which offer both highly artistic and highly technical skills. The latest graduates have created a huge range of innovative collections. The ones to watch include Edinburgh College of Art’s Ruth Williams, Glasgow School of Art’s Aymie Black, Gray’s School of Art’s Amy Forbes and Heriot-Watt University’s Amy Johnston.


  1. Barbra Kolasinksi
  2. Textiles by April
  3. Quincy Design (photographer Lianne Mackay)
  4. AcHu Design
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