THEY have been seen adorning the legs of celebrities as diverse as Ronnie Corbett and Ryan Giggs, and now the call of one of sport’s loudest fashions is being heard in the Far East.
Tartan trews manufacturer Slanj has just secured a lucrative Chinese export deal which could see it ship more than 5000 colourful garments to Chinese golf fans a year.
The Edinburgh firm won the deal after travelling to Beijing to drum up trade. It was supported by Scottish Development International (SDI), which has been heavily promoting the food and drink export market in Asia, worth a record high of more than £1 billion in 2011.
Golf is one of China’s fastest growing industries, with 20 million people expected to have taken up the sport by 2020.
Brian Halley, founder of Slanj, said the deal had enabled it to take on four extra staff.
He said: “I’ve travelled a lot promoting our clothing and I always wear tartan. People always remark on it but I couldn’t believe the response in China. I felt like a movie star! People kept wanting to have their picture taken with me.”
Slanj’s deal with Shanghai importer Sun Fashion comes at a time when all things Scottish are going down a storm in the Far East.
Brian, 43, continued: “Scottish products are extremely popular in China right now, whisky and golf especially. I think it’s the association of quality and the heritage that comes with it that really attracts people.”
Cameron Foster, 34, who manages the firm’s Edinburgh store on St Mary’s Street, said: “We’ve definitely noticed more people from China buying tartan clothing. The tartan trousers and kilts are very popular.”
Brian added: “We’ve had quite a few celebrity customers. Ewan McGregor, Sir Sean Connery, Jean Michel Jarre bought five pairs!
“Probably the most surreal was when we made some for Sir Alex Ferguson not long ago. They asked me to come to Old Trafford because a lot of the players had been admiring his.
“The player liaison manager took me into the dressing room and announced me to all the players to see if they wanted some. I measured up Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney for two pairs and Jonny Evans bought a pair too.
“Ryan Giggs came in and said they weren’t for him, but I think he was just put off by the fact they had chosen rather loud colours. He came back five minutes later and got three of the more subtle-shaded ones.”
Friendship between China and Scotland has hit new heights over the last few years.
Giant pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang are currently on loan to Edinburgh Zoo for ten years, while sales of Scottish salmon and whisky are rocketing in the Asian market, with whisky especially being seen as a sign of status.
In December last year, Diageo, Scotland’s largest distiller, announced the opening of a second Johnnie Walker House in Beijing. Since the first opened in Shanghai in 2011, sales of the brand in China have risen by 64 per cent.