By Brendan Capuano
Asst. News Editor
What is red, white and grey with stripes all over? It is Sacred Heart University’s official tartan which was publicly announced March 13, 2018 in a press release and video unveiling the pattern.
According to the Scottish Register of Tartans in Edinburgh Scotland, tartan is “a design which is capable of being wovven consisting of two or more alternating coloured stripes which combine vertically and horizontally to form a repeated chequered pattern.” These patterns are referred to as a “sett” of tartan.
The reason for designing the tartan was because of the addition of two bagpipers, to the Sacred Heart University Band, who needed a pattern for their kilts.
Keith Johnston, Director of Bands, last year was approached by two prospective students who played the bagpipes, and saw their unique instrument as a way to grow the band.
Johnston now has the bagpipers existing as their own entity under the Sacred Heart band, but hopes to bring them into larger marching band soon.
“Our instructor is doing a ‘bagpipes for beginners’ class that is open to everyone, students faculty staff, anyone. We will do the exact same thing next year, starting in the fall” said Johnston.
Johnston anticipates the program to grow to include five to ten bagpipers within the next year.
The Sacred Heart University Tartan, was registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans on Oct. 12, 2017, under reference number 11939. The announcement of the tartan was held until the bagpipers were fully outfitted in full regalia, including kilts.
“Believe it or not, a lot of Universities have a secondary branded tartan,” said Deb Chute, Associate Director of Creative Services, who designed the pattern. Quinnipiac University has their own officially registered tartan as well.
“I am Irish, I am a golfer, and I love tartan. Out of all the projects I’ve worked on here, I’ve enjoyed this one the most because it came from concept to the actual production of the tartan. Seeing the guys in their actual kilts was a really fun project,” she said.
Chute said the project came very organically out of the bagpiper’s addition to the band, not as a “marketing ploy to get attention.” The project also came with its own challenges.
“There are not any manufacturers of tartan fabric domestically, there are two and they are both in Scotland,” said Chute.
These manufacturers design for everyone from Universities to Ralph Lauren. She said that because of the few manufacturers of authentic tartan wool, it took months.
Tartan’s also have a specific unique history written for them, Sean Kaschak, Multimedia Manager for Sacred Heart, assisted in writing the tartan’s history.
“The Sacred Heart University tartan reflects the nature of our founding. Central to each sett, as it is to the University, is a cross.
The cross is comprised of sets of three lines representing the Holy Trinity with each of the three lines woven from six threads, an homage to 1963, the year of our founding.”
The history continues, explaining the usage of the color red to signify the Sacred Heart of Jesus
“The common thread that connects all we do and defines who we are as an institution,” said the history. “The Sacred Heart University tartan displays diversity and complexity working in unison, which is the very fabric of the University.”
When asked if University Marketing and Communications intended to include so many puns writing the tartan’s history and background Kaschak said, “if that’s the story you want to weave, I won’t deny it.”
“Historically, tartan was the everyday wear of Highlanders, spun, dyed, woven and fashioned locally,” according to the Scottish Register of Tartans.
Chute said that there is potential for the tartan to be used by sports teams and for design elements potentially at the Sacred Heart Campus in Dingle, Ireland.
The Sacred Heart Tartan is already being sported by the band’s bagpipers, but has also been incorporated into apparel and merchandise available for purchase in the University Bookstore. There is also a coupon code “SH50” for 50% off the Sacred Heart Tartan for tartan products on Collegiate Tartan Apparel’s website.