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Press Cutting: The Scotsman Newspaper - Big Interview with John Kinloch Anderson

Its kilts are woven into the fabric of the nation – worn by the Royal Family, the tennis champions Andy and Jamie Murray, and actor Sir Sean Connery. Now Kinloch Anderson is looking to fuse its history and heritage with hi-tech as it celebrates its 150th anniversary. Chief executive John Kinloch Anderson describes the occasion as a “landmark” which will be celebrated with the unveiling in Inverleith Park this Saturday of a sundial originally gifted to Edinburgh by his family in 1890. The company has undertaken the restoration of the Kinloch Anderson sundial, which has been described as a key part of Edinburgh’s cultural heritage, after being approached in 2017 regarding such a project by a committee member from the Friends of Inverleith Park. To mark the achievement, the firm has created a special sundial tartan, adding to its commissions over the years for the likes of Barbour, Drambuie, Irn-Bru (“Unmissable and very reflective of their brand”) and Edinburgh Zoo’s pandas (inevitably in black and white). The firm welcomed King George IV in 1822 in a visit organised by Sir Walter Scott, and it holds royal warrants for the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Prince of Wales, the only company in Scotland to hold all three. As for tennis royalty, the Murray brothers both wore the Murray of Elibank Tartan for their respective weddings. Kinloch Anderson is the sixth-generation boss of the company, which started out when William Anderson and his two sons, who ran a tailoring business in Edinburgh, decided to progress from their partnership to a limited company after orders increased. They became renowned as Scotland’s premier civilian tailors, and then prior to the advent of the First World War, military tailoring developed as an important part of the business, with officers’ uniforms being tailored for all the Scottish regiments,” says Kinloch Anderson. “At one time there were over 200 qualified tailors sitting cross-legged on their benches in the workshop.” The move from bespoke civilian to military tailoring established the firm’s specialist knowledge about kiltmaking and tartans “and elements that are still of great importance to the company today”, he says. The firm’s chief highlights the “bold” decision in the late 1920s and early 1930s by the third generation to introduce ready-to-wear men’s clothing. “It really incurred the disdain of the master tailors of George Street of the day. But it was actually the right decision, as a decade later most of the other tailors had faded away.” After the Second World War, fourth-generation WJ Kinloch Anderson regularly travelled across the Atlantic, and a wholesale division was established to meet burgeoning demand from the Scottish diaspora. A garment manufacturing business developed from this, with a ladies Kinloch Anderson kilted skirt being considered the market leader, selling to the US, Canada and across Europe. “In the 1970s and early 1980s, over 100,000 skirts a year were leaving Edinburgh and going all around the world.” Moving to John’s father, Douglas, currently the firm’s chairman, the global recession and changes in classic fashion slowed the growth of the manufacturing arm “but marked an important change of direction for the company”. 

Read the article: https://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/retail/the-big-interview-john-kinloch-anderson-1-4751966

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