EKU Tartan Now Listed on Scottish Register of Tartans

photo of tartan

Eastern Kentucky University’s new tartan design is now officially listed on the Scottish Register of Tartans, providing the University worldwide recognition and another means for branding.

The tartan will begin to show up as early this fall on a variety of products, including tumblers, phone cases, ties and wool scarves.

“The official tartan is unique to EKU and is another way to promote and show our pride in Eastern Kentucky University,” said Dr. Dana Bush, chair of the University’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, where the process to design an EKU tartan originated.

In Spring 2013, Susan Kipp, a faculty member in the department, gave her Apparel Design and Merchandising (ADM 550) class the assignment to design a tartan to represent EKU. Five tartan designs were then narrowed to three by the Department, and the campus community was given the opportunity to select the winner, a design by Hensley Rector.

“In keeping with tradition, the color of maroon dominates in the winning design, which is symbolic of courage, bravery and strength,” Bush said.

Bush said Kipp worked closely with the students to ensure a “properly balanced” design and supervised the details such as thread counts and colors. “I have great respect for Ms. Kipp, her knowledge and her talents,” Bush said.

The Scottish Register of Tartans Act of 2008 defines a tartan as “a design which is capable of being woven consisting of two or more alternating colored stripes which combine vertically and horizontally to form a checkered pattern. The basis of any tartan is a simple two-color check to which the designer adds over-checks, bands and stripes in contrasting colors … to result in a balanced and harmonious pattern.”

Historically, tartan was the everyday wear of Highlanders, spun, dyed, woven and fashioned locally. Wealthy families were able to afford bringer fabrics colored with imported dyes and fashionably tailored. In the 18th century the association of tartan with the Jacobites (considered outlaws and rebels by the British government) led to its proscription in the Highlands from 1747 to 1782. During this period tartan was worn in the lowlands of Scotland, often as a political statement. It was also popularized across the world as the uniform of the Highland regiments.

The end of proscription and the new romantic re-interpretation of Scottish history in the late 18th and early 19th centuries led to the popularization of “Highland Dress,” as worn by King George IV during his visit to Scotland in 1822 and promoted by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Today tartan is worn all over the world (not just by Scots), and is regularly seen on catwalks and in designer collections.

Published on June 30, 2014