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The Alternative Blog


noun a woollen cloth woven in one of several patterns of coloured checks and intersecting lines, especially of a design associated with a particular Scottish clan.

Tartan has dressed kings, festooned castles, graced catwalks and now warms our floors. There are over 7,000 tartans on record with new designs being whipped up all the time.

Yes, it has been around for centuries and this famous cloth may be as old as the hills, but we love the more modern twists to this traditional design.

Power Plaid! In Sunday Times Style

Inspired by highland tradition, our Quirky Fling design takes a classic tartan and brings it bang up to date  with contemporary colourings.

Quirky Fling Damson

Fling is now available as runners in combinations that range from cool blues and smart naturals to rich damson and sharp lime.

This bold, historical pattern is both royal and rebellious. George IV, in full Highland dress made from the Royal Stewart, created the real tartan craze. Royal endorsement continued when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s estate Balmoral Castle was dressed from top to toe in tartan – Royal Stewart and the Hunting Stewart tartans for carpets.

Tartan’s association with the establishment made this fabric fodder for a younger generation to voice its discontent against modern society. In the late 1970’s, the unorthodox use of tartan by likes of Vivienne Westwood saw it indelibly linked with punk. This traditional fabric suddenly became a strong symbol of rebellion.

Stella McCartney loves tartan because it plays colour and scale, ‘combining a nod to tomboy sensitivity and British tradition.’ It is this diverse image that makes it so alluring – think the matronly Miss Jean Brodie in calf-length skirts and the subversive Sid Vicious in bondage trousers. It’s funky and traditional, elegant and anarchic.’Or in other words Alternative!

Tartan is wonderfully unisex, as well as cosy and stylish,’ says decorator Nina Campbell. ‘It really is a great British classic, up there with paisley and chintz.’ When she used tartan for a bar in New York’s Grand Central Station, she brightened the colours to hot pinks and gorse yellows.

Anta’s tartans start with the classic sett but sometimes have wild colour combinations. Owner Annie Stewart loves the inexhaustible potential of tartan. ‘Tartan includes a lot of colour but in an ordered way. If you used the same number of colours in a print it would look riotous – but with a tartan it’s more structured.’

This is one of the many reasons why this pattern works wonders for flooring. Order those Fling runners now and dress up your home this winter.

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The Edit - home style by Alternative