This casual kilt outfit from 21st Century Kilts is illustrative of an urge within the Highland wear industry to reposition the kilt as an accessible form of everyday dress for men.
Kilts are traditionally made from tartan, have a high rise, and are worn with an ornamental sporran, hose, and ghillie brogues. By comparison, this kilt is tailored to sit low on the hip, has detachable pockets for carrying essential items, and is styled with layered socks and Nike Air boots for a more athletic feel. Eschewing the ubiquity of tartan garments within the industry, it has been made from a practical, hardwearing denim. This mode of kilt-wearing is well-suited to urban spaces, such as Edinburgh, where it has become a recognised element of the city’s street fashion.
Designed by Howie Nicholsby in 1996, the distinctive pocketed kilt offered by 21st Century Kilts is now considered a staple of contemporary Highland wear in Scotland. The style is reminiscent of ‘utility’ kilts, which also emerged at the close of the 20th century and remain popular in the UK and USA. Typically manufactured using plain or camouflage heavyweight cotton, utility kilts are designed to be worn for work as well as for leisure.
Detachable front pockets, part of a black denim kilt once belonging to designer Howie Nicholsby
Detachable back pockets, part of a black denim kilt once belonging to designer Howie Nicholsby
Signature lightning bolt kilt pin, part of an outfit styled by designer Howie Nicholsby of 21st Century Kilts, Edinburgh, 2022
Hunting Stewart tartan and fleece neckwarmer, 'Shüd', part of an outfit styled by Howie Nicholsby of 21st Century Kilts, Edinburgh, made by Shu Lorimer, 2022
Chunky black and grey knitted socks worn with a pair of Nike Air boots, part of an outfit styled by Howie Nicholsby of 21st Century Kilts, Edinburgh, 2022
Kilt outfit styled by designer Howie Nicholsby of 21st Century Kilts, Edinburgh, 2022