This is how a kilt should look. Egbert Harmse of Springs, the owner of Cargokilts, says he is very proud of the kilts they manufacture.
It takes a lot of class and a real man or woman to don the symbol of honour, pride and, for some, freedom of movement and masculinity. Just ask alumnus Egbert Harmse, owner of Cargokilts, one of South Africa’s foremost kilt manufacturers.
Visitors to the 2016 Aardklop Arts Festival in Potchefstroom had the opportunity to not only see the locally produced kilts but also to meet Egbert, who left behind a career as a mechanical engineer to pursue his passion.
In a gruff voice worthy of any of the great Scottish warriors, Egbert, who was a mechanical engineer before quitting his job to manufacture kilts full time, starts off passionately by clearing up a popular misconception.
He says before talking about kilts it is important to set the record straight. The origin of kilts, which are closely associated with Scottish culture, can actually be traced back to Iberia (a historical area divided between the current Portugal and Spain).
He realises however that trying to change this perception when so many people are convinced otherwise, is futile. This is why he decided to embrace the Scottish idea with a flag of Scotland when he sells his kilts at markets and popular festivals such as Aardklop.
Yes, it started at varsity...
It was in Potchefstroom where the seed was sown for Egbert’s ‘kilt empire’. This passion started many years ago and quite by accident, with Rag being the inspiration behind it. As a first-year student at the former Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education he needed a kilt for the rag procession. When he could not get his hands on one, he decided to make his own.
This kickstarted Egbert’s "innovative approach" to manufacturing.As a poor student with limited resources he needed fabric and knew just where to get it. He confesses that his first eight kilts were made from curtains which he “obtained” from the university’s auditorium.
From hobby to business
Those were the days, he remembers fondly. “My passion for kilts started there and stayed with me for many years. In the beginning of 2013 I decided to leave the corporate world and take my passion and skills to serve a market of cultured clients.”
He said after finding this niche market, he has never looked back. “Since starting Cargokilts, my idea of earning a living changed from a working-to-live to a living-to-work attitude.”
His products have become known for their superior quality and since those first days he has sold many kilts to clients from all over the world and even in Scotland, building a reputation as an ace kilt manufacturer. The kilts are sought-after cultural attire and accessories for functions.
For more information on Cargokilts, visit their webpage at www.cargokilts.co.za or look them up on facebook.
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Kilts, like any item of good clothing, should be worn with class and pride and must fit perfectly. Egbert says this is why each and every one is tailor made.
“We manufacture them according to the needs and measurements of our clients. There is nothing more satisfying than to see them look confident and proud in their kilts,” he concludes.
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