Freedom of Movement

CARGO KILTS ARE A FRESH ARTISAN COMPANY THAT DOESN’T JUST OFFER KILTS, THEY OFFER FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT…

There are times when I find myself straying away from the university library and out of the gates into marvelous Melville in search of a little adventure. This little suburb is Johannesburg‘s bohemia – a little village of cafe culture and boutique shopping, where one will find the most interesting characters. I feel that my trips to Melville are sort of like mini-adventures, because everytime I go there I end up spending time with people who take me on a journey through the stories of their colorful lives.

Enter Sean McClymont – a kind, bearded South African Scottsman who plays the bagpipes and rocks the kilt. As I was scouting for interesting encounters, I came across a store which seemed to have evaded time. Cargo Kilts has no glitzy, digital, 21st century elements – it’s all pure old school, analogue and tradition. The lure of this time-warp was what drew me into the store, where I struck up a coversation with manager Sean. Innitially, I assumed that the kilt is for men who play bagpipes….but Sean soon showed me how wrong I was.

Sean explained to me that the whole concept of the kilt revolves around freedom of movement. It is about being functional and comfortable, as well as making a statement. I was right about the bagpipe players though – they are indeed a big part of the cargo kilt customer market, but there are many other cultures which have embraced the kilt. Farmers and non-city folk, homosexuals and activists, rockers and hippies all buy kilts from Sean. The mini kilt is a kilt made for ladies (can’t wait to get my own) so there goes my misguided perception of kilts being for men only. Sean had me try on a couple of the kilts he had in stock, so that I could get a feel for the freedom of movement concept – as he insisted that the only way to understand the concept is to feel it. I can say from experience now that the concept of freedom of movement really is the only way to describe the feeling of wearing a kilt.

So, naturally, my first query was “what is the dirffernece between a kilt and a skirt?” Well, Sean showed me that the kilt has pleating at the back, and is fastened with three small buckles whereas skirts are not made in this way. The kilt also has a number of spacious pockets, a few attachments to hook keys onto, and belt loops – which all ladies know are rarely features on a skirt. Obviously, the traditional history of the kilt is also a major difference, as kilts have had an interesting hisory – having origins in Europe, going through a period of being banned by English royalty and making a statement on rugby fields for generations.

Tartan kilts have been iconic in Mc families as the various clans had specific tartans which represent their lineage. The tartans at Cargo Kilts are all handmade by the company and are not imported (as I would have thought). This artisan craft is beautiful and incredible, as the fabrics are truly top quality and the some fifteen varieties are strikingly impressive. The kilts are made to measurements, so if you buy one you are getting a one-of-a-kind tailored masterpiece. The most impressive tartan that these guys make is the only one of it’s kind in the world – the South African tartan (which Sean is pointing to in the above photograph). The store also stocks jacobite shirts, sporrans (hide pouches), flat caps (cheesecutters),  Tam O’Shanter hats, traditional Irish dancing shoes and (my personal favourite) drinking horns.

Another great thing I spotted in the store is the African Celtic Jewellery. These beautifully crafted rings, earrings, broaches, tiaras and necklaces are unique and attractive. There are also a number of interesting functional display items including a gramophone, an original singer sewing machine, a whiskey cabinet, a Gestetner printing press, and a large jeweler’s magnifying glass for customers to use when checking out the jewellery.

Visit the store on Melville’s popular 7th Street, or see their website (click here). You could also find out more from the Cargo Kilts Facebook page (click here).

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