Creative industries

Bespoke tartan expansion for Bute manufacturers

An internationally recognised fabric designer and manufacturer based on a Scottish island is celebrating landmark orders for its new custom designed tartan range.

An internationally recognised fabric designer and manufacturer based on a Scottish island is celebrating landmark orders for its new custom designed tartan range.

Bute Fabrics, based in Rothesay on the isle of Bute off the west coast of Scotland, has accepted orders totalling over £100,000 for its 100% wool tartan, individually designed and woven at its mill on the island.

Demand for fabric is now so high that the company has invested in a new loom which will expand the design options and double capacity for tucked-edge tartan.

The business has been supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), with HIE investing £200,000 in a loan to the business in 2013 to support them to develop new products, new markets and fund their ongoing growth.

Since the launch of the new range in 2013, Bute Fabrics have woven custom tartan in quantities as small as 50 linear metres for clients as diverse as The Society of William Wallace, The Enable Charity, St Mirren Corporate, the Newlands family, Apollo 9’s 50th anniversary, RAF Kinloss and Dunan’s Castle restoration, amongst many others. Previous key customers include Hong Kong Airport and Bank of America, with regular clients including architects, furniture designers and interior designers.

The custom designs are now joined by the brand new and very contemporary Stuart of Bute tartans held in stock, named after island farms including those where Bute Fabrics people employees and designers live, like Edinbeg and Ballycurrie.

James MacAdam Sprint, Managing Director at Bute Fabrics said: “None of this would have been possible without the positive intervention of HIE. It’s very pleasing to know that the global market is responding so well to our offer of the highest quality woven fabrics at fair prices. This will help secure even more jobs for longer at Bute Fabrics.”

Bute Fabrics is a contemporary fabric designer and manufacturer. The landscape, colours and textures of the island provide a rich seam of inspiration for the design team who reside there. Far from being isolated, the company enjoys an international profile, working with designers and manufacturers across the globe.

David Smart of HIE, commented: “This is great news for Bute Fabrics. The company has a well-deserved reputation for quality and for creating attractive affordable fabrics.  Bute Fabrics has a long history in Rothesay and as one of the key private sector employers on the island we are delighted to be able to support its ambitious international plans.”

The company was set up by the 5th Marquess of Bute in 1947 to provide employment for returning servicemen and servicewomen and the Bute family has been inextricably linked with the island and its development ever since. John Bute, 7th Marquess of Bute and other family members are shareholders and owners of the business.

The appeal of Bute Fabrics tartan is global. Recently an architect in Gothenburg specified the Ardroscadale tartan for an aparthotel in Stockholm, producing an order value worth £20k to the Bute Fabrics. The Clan Chief of Stuart of Bute has been particularly supportive and has put his weight not only behind this product launch but also the initiatives being taken by the Scottish Tartans Authority to push for protection for the descriptor Scottish Tartan.

The new loom, due to arrive shortly in the mill, will offer significantly more design options as well as doubling capacity for tucked edge tartan. This tucked edge technical competency is proving very attractive to tailors as the fabric already has a beautiful loom finished hem which saves them a complete operation when making kilts and garments.

The new fabrics and colours can be seen on the website


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