320003-319ProductChecked Cotton Shirt
history Buffalo checks
The iconic red and black check tartan has changed names, origin stories and significance since it was first registered in 1704 by clan MacGregor. After the Jacobite rebellion in 1745, tartan became even more important to the Scottish Highlanders as a symbol of their independence. The checked tartan of clan MacGregor was renamed ‘Rob Roy’ for the Scottish folk hero of independence.
When Scottish immigrants brought the Rob Roy to the United States, it became popular with Native Americans and settlers for its vivid hues and sturdy weave. It became known as ‘buffalo check’ or ‘buffalo plaid’ because the first trader of the pattern happened to own a small herd of buffalo. It’s been known as buffalo check ever since – and worn continuously too.
Once a catchall term for the hardy woollen cloth worn by Highlanders, ‘tartan’ now refers to the distinctive plaids that have identified Scottish clans for thousands of years.
Ancient Celts probably brought tartan to the Scottish Highlands between the 8th and 6th centuries BCE. Over time, tartans were woven specially for different castes – kings had seven stripes and peasants had only one. Colours were added, patterns grew more complex, and families and clans began using unique tartans to identify ancestry and announce fealty.
Tartans are actually complex twill weaves, but rather than using identical warp and weft patterns, tartans use slightly different fibres and colours to create individual patterns. Twill’s strength and cold- and water-repellent qualities made it well-suited to the rough, outdoor living of Highlanders.
Twill is one of the most common fabrics in the modern closet, woven for everything from denim jeans and chino trousers to dress shirts and gabardine jackets. Its tell-tale diagonal pattern makes it a rugged, reliable material for structured garments.
One of three fundamental types of weaves – the other two are plain weave and satin – twill is woven with a ‘step’ that gives it its iconic diagonal appearance. One thread crosses over one or more threads before moving under two or more threads. The pattern is repeated but ‘steps up’ one thread in the weave, creating a staircase effect.
The step construction makes twill wrinkle-resistant and helps it drape well with a softer and more pliable feel. The diagonal texture means that stains are less noticeable than they would be on a smooth surface, making it a solid choice for work wear as well as upholstery.