In praise of the artisan and heirloom products

At a mill tucked away deep inside a leafy town in the Scottish Borders a product steeped in over 200 years of history is having a renaissance.

The Shepherd’s Plaid, a giant checked scarf, which was once used to protect farmers from the elements and help them carry lost lambs back to the fold, is now being embraced by the contemporary luxury market. 

In February I fell for one, hard. After a decade styling and writing about fashion I traded in my role as a journalist to join the textiles industry. This was when I first set eyes on a monochrome checked blanket of a scarf. 

Slinging it over my outfit felt like I’d just given myself a million pound make-over. The weight of the wool, the heavy hand knots at the bottom holding it in place as it draped elegantly over my clothing was a thing of beauty. 

Decades of heritage: Plaid being woven at DC Dalgliesh's mill in the Scottish border

Decades of heritage: Plaid being woven at DC Dalgliesh’s mill in the Scottish border

So off it came with me to London Fashion Week, separating it from the traditional highlandwear market it usually socialised in for the first time since Sir Walter Scott introduced it to his cronies back in the 1800’s. 

The reaction to the Plaid post-catwalk was palpable – and we weren’t even showing. From Mulberry to Burberry and Pringle of Scotland in between, fellow Fashion Week-ers were consistently intrigued by my wrap.  

It was in this moment I understood the power of artisan, heirloom pieces and the cultural impact heritage brands have on our fashion landscape. DC Dalgliesh has been weaving tartan for almost 70 years. We are the world’s only dedicated hand-crafted tartan mill. That level of luxury radiates off of our products making people react and care for our cloth in a way I have seldom seen. 

Forever pieces: Lynne models the Shepherd's Plaid

Forever pieces: Lynne models the Shepherd’s Plaid

As consumer attitudes come full circle and feelings for fast fashion sour, there is a real return to traditional shopping values. Investment buying of key items that will be with you season after season are making a comeback and this search for quality has lead us to rethink what we do at the mill. 

The Shepherd’s Plaid is transitioning. Becoming a contemporary piece woven in new colour-ways from classic palettes to wild fashion colours. What thrills me about this whole process, from it being woven on our looms to the hand-purling by our artisans, is knowing these accessories will be loved and worn year after year because of the craftsmanship that has gone into them. 

Like what you just read? Follow Lynne on Twitter. Shepherd’s Plaid by DC Dalgliesh is available online from August 15.

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