‘Sakura’ tartan aimed at Japanese buyers

by William Hollingworth

LONDON (Kyodo) A Scottish entrepreneur has specially designed a tartan aimed at Japanese consumers and is hoping to use it to market a wide variety of products.

David McGill from Edinburgh has just finished work on the “sakura” (cherry blossom) design, incorporating the colors pink, white, green and brown.

The colors are supposed to represent the cherry blossom trees that are much loved by the Japanese, who pay great attention each year to when exactly the blooms arrive.

Many people go on tours to look at the beautiful trees and have picnics under them with family and work colleagues.

McGill, who runs International Tartans Ltd., decided to come up with the design after consulting Japanese friend Shizue Melvin, who told him about the national obsession with cherry blossoms.

“I did the design and Shizue came up with the colors. We hope that in the future we will be able to make a sakura liqueur and chocolates. The design is currently being listed with the Scottish Tartan World Register as a unique tartan and we will then weave the design into woolen cloth. We will then use the woolen cloth to make sample products,” McGill said.

He plans to use the design on a wide range of accessories, including ties, scarves, shawls and blankets.

The entrepreneur is also hoping to use the design on miniskirts, and given the craze for pampering pets in Japan, he is planning to use the design on a range of products for dogs.

Consumers should be able to buy the products direct from his Web site, but he also plans to contact Japanese firms with sample products in an effort to secure big orders.

McGill also designed a Japanese tartan a few years ago, incorporating the colors of the Scottish and Japanese national flags. The tartan design proved popular with Japanese people placing orders for ties and scarves.

He came up with the idea of incorporating the two flags after learning about the important contribution made by Scotsman Thomas Glover (1838-1911) to Japan’s economic development. Glover arrived in Japan in 1859 and is viewed by many as having been instrumental in the development of the country’s shipbuilding, mining and rail industries.

“I see tartans as a symbol of fraternal greetings,” McGill said.

He has already designed tartans for many countries, including Poland, France and Norway, as well as some U.S. states.