Howie Nicholsby might be seen as an eccentric, a visionary, or just plain weird by the average New Yorker during his visit to the city this week. But the fact is, he’s on a mission. Nicholsby, owner and founder of Edinburgh-based brand 21st Century Kilts, wants to make sure that “alternative trousers” (kilts) are seen as acceptable everyday wear for the fashion-forward and comfort-oriented male.
In honor of National Tartan Day, we spoke with Nicholsby, who designed for many celebrities—“Vin Disel was the coolest, I wish he would wear his leather kilt more!”—as well as Mario Testino, Alan Cumming, Lenny Kravitz, Hotel Missoni, and more, about his goal of offering “men throughout the world a realistic alternative to trousers.”
Nicholsby isn’t what one would expect from a kilt advocate – he’s Jewish and has no clan – but he had a dream and a plan.
“After making the life choice at 21 not to wear trousers anymore, I knew kilts were the only way forward,” he told us.
He launched his brand at London Fashion Week in 1999 and hasn’t looked back since.
Today’s gentlemen, accustomed to suits and trousers, may see the decision to wear kilts on a daily basis to be outlandish, but history indicates that kilts were once common attire for men.
In addition to the style benefits, Nicholsby points out that the freeing kilts are “much better for the male anatomy and health.”
For those gentlemen who can get on board with the loose fitting garment, but aren’t sure how to style the new look, Nicholsby offers advice: wear the kilt as one would with jeans – the same shirt, sweater and jackets. Pair the kilt with good chunky socks and nice boots to finish the look. Fabric and textures can vary – wool is the most common, but Nicholsby says that denim and even specialty fabrics like leather are the most exciting.
As for the undergarments? “Vaseline if commando, Calvin Klein Black, day-to-day.”
Not quite sure if you could sport the look? “Really, a man just needs to go for it and have the balls to wear it.”
Weigh in in the comments section and let us know if you’d be willing to try the alternative trousers look. If you’re looking to purchase a custom kilt, Nicholsby will be in New York City between April 8th and 10th. He is available for select appointments.