Siobhan makes tartan avant-garde

Siobhan makes tartan avant-garde

Siobhan Mackenzie is a multi-award winning Scottish fashion designer specialising in revolutionising the kilt for the fashion industry. Recently awarded ‘Best New Scottish Designer 2016’, Siobhan spoke to BQ about how she got started and where she plans to go from here...

While studying fashion design & production at university, Siobhan trained with Scotland’s master kilt maker, and was inspired to create a unique range of kilts as her graduate collection. Demand for her innovative designs was so high that she set up her own business just five days after graduating, and has never looked back.

Speaking to BQ, she said: “I have wanted to be a fashion designer since the age of ten so it feels natural to me and so exciting. Every day is a school day on an entrepreneurial journey and I’m constantly learning.”

Siobhan’s designs combine traditional Scottish dress with bespoke fashion pieces, she explained: “My pioneering signature style reinvigorates the kilt into a modern era with truly distinctive designs.

“The mixture of my technical knowledge of traditional kilt-making and my fashion design & production degree allows me to adapt the traditional kilt in a way that is respectful to the original craft but with an innovative edge.”

5647 Kilt

Siobhan utilised the help of organisations like Entrepreneurial Spark, Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise & SDI to help her get her ideas off the ground, and received a loan from the Prince's Trust to initially get the business started.

The funding has been invaluable, as it is often one of the most difficult parts of starting a new business. Siobhan said: “I have found funding the most challenging obstacle so far, as the steps I need to take to scale my business include investing money in certain aspects such as trade shows.

“I’ve grown the business organically so it’s all about making conscious decisions on what I can and can’t afford to do with it.”

Now Siobhan is looking to scale the business up once more, as she aims to source luxury retailers in the UK and abroad to stock her ready-to-wear styles, she said: “I trade internationally independently right now but the ideal scenario is to have stockists where I can have a wider reach.”

Reflecting on her business journey so far, Siobhan said “The best thing is pursuing your dream and the worst thing is the lack of sleep - as a start-up you wear many hats in the business and there are always tasks to be done- this involves very late nights and very early mornings!”



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