Justin Guthrie

Justin Guthrie

Traditional custom kilts surging in popularity

View Royal shop specializes in the Scottish fashion statements

Two local kilt makers are breathing fresh life into the classic garment-making tradition.

Jackson Wagner and Justin Guthrie are on a mission to bring the joy and freedom of everyday kilt wearing to men and women of all ages and are opening a store in View Royal to help them do just that.

Due to the surging popularity of kilts, fuelled by a growing trend of personalizing weddings, their business has grown out of Wagner’s retrofitted garage in Langford to their new retail location.

“This is our first big venture,” says Wagner, co-owner and kilt maker at North of Hadrian’s Kilts and Celtic Clothing. “Business put us there sooner than expected.”

The business partners couldn’t be happier with the growth, he says, but they are terrified just the same.

But the duo know kilts – Wagner, for example, only owns one pair of pants.

“I have a beat-up pair of jogging pants,” he says, noting they’re for emergencies such as having to run out of the house quickly, say to escape a fire. He doubts, however, that he would grab the pants over a kilt in the middle of the night. “I’ve worn kilts for a little over two decades. It’s so comfortable to wear a kilt, so why not wear one?”

He compares the experience to getting out of the shower and wrapping a towel around your waist. “Once it’s on … You just can’t help but stand a little taller and put a little swoosh in your pleats as we say.”

For those unsure of the process, Wagner says there really is no wrong way to wear a kilt. From a style perspective, they range from the more traditional through to leather studded ones. With thousands of different tartans to choose from, he says, there’s something for everyone.

“We often tell people, don’t try to put yourself in a mould … If you like what you see you’re doing it right. There’s no such thing as someone who shouldn’t wear a kilt.”

For those a little wary of sudden gusts of wind, Wagner assures that “Marilyn Monroe moments” are rare. “I have yet to give someone a free show,” he says, laughing.

After a soft opening through October to fine tune the storefront, Wagner and Guthrie will celebrate the grand opening of the first North of Hadrian’s store front, 264 Island Hwy. this Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 14 and 15) from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Celebrations include a tartan ribbon cutting Saturday and traditional Scottish music performed by the Vancouver Island Caledonia Pipe Band. Wagner said there will also be some special discounts and deals to mark the occasion.

For more information go to northofhadrians.com.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com