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Utili-Kilts from Seattle ... no need to be Scots or Irish at all ...

From the New York Times

MATT VILLANO writes November 5 2006:

“You don’t have to be Scottish to wear a kilt,” says Steven Villegas, a Seattle clothier who has pioneered a comfortable alternative to trousers in the form of pocketed knee-length garments for men. Utilikilts, in Pioneer Square, offers eight models, which include styles made of cotton, leather, duck cloth and lightweight nylon. There’s even a black gabardine kilt with satin stripes, designed to be worn with a tuxedo. They are available in 15 colors.

Mr. Villegas invented the utilitarian fashion in 1999 as something to wear around the house. He wanted an “unbifurcated garment” with “natural air-conditioning” that would enable him to fill his pockets or hold tools without hindering movement. Since no local tailor would make the kilt for him, Mr. Villegas bought a sewing machine and stitched a prototype himself. Weeks later, he wore it to a club, where a burly bouncer asked to buy one. Utilikilts was born.

Through word-of-mouth and a Web site, Mr. Villegas (below) sold 750 kilts that first year. By Christmas, he had rented an old warehouse in Interbay, a sliver of railroad yards that separates Queen Anne Hill from the smaller rise of Magnolia Hill. A small staff sewed away in the back room. Over the years, the warehouse evolved into a trove of eclecticism, displaying modern art, the front of a red double-decker bus and a 1950 Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle.

The store moved to Pioneer Square in September. Shopping there is highly interactive. Kilt-clad salespeople pepper customers with questions about their fashion tendencies, and everyone receives a fitting. Utilikilts are designed to be worn on the belt line, slung lower than the waistline, and sizes generally run an inch and a half or two larger than jeans.

Utilikilts is on pace to sell 15,000 kilts by the end of the year. Mr. Villegas notes that many of his customers buy one kilt a year. “They buy it as a novelty, they get comfortable in it, and then they come back for more,” he said.

The Spartan, a lightweight nylon kilt with an elastic waistband and “marsupial” front pouch as on a hooded sweatshirt, sells for $99, while the all-leather version costs $700. The “Survival,” worn by “Survivor” contestant and convicted tax evader Richard Hatch, is $250. This kilt has six pockets, including two detachable ones. Mr. Villegas says this model can hold up to 20 bottles of beer. Not even cargo pants can claim that.

The website takes you to Seattle

Published Date: November 5th 2006

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