Mardi Gras aside, it’s not very often you see guys on the streets of Sydney wearing skirts.

But all that is set to change, according to Scottish kilt designer Howie Nicholsby, who believes skirts will soon be a focus of men’s fashion.

Nicholsby’s Edinburgh-based company 21st Century Kilts creates, as the name suggests, modern kilts -“ or man skirts as he calls them -“ for today’s modern man.

His creations are available in camouflage-print, pinstripe, black leather, oriental silk, plus there’s traditional Scottish tartan.

Nicholsby’s designs regularly appear on the catwalks of London and New York and have been worn by the likes of Robbie Williams, Vin Diesel and Madonna. Sean Connery and Kyle McLachlan are also said to be fans.

So is there any difference between a kilt and a skirt?

A kilt is a skirt, said Nicholsby, who was recently in Sydney to help promote Tourism Scotland.

You can’t say that it’s not a skirt, because it’s got no legs.

The problem is when you hear -˜skirt’, people think of women straight away. But go back to ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece and men all wore skirts. It’s only in the last 100 years that western culture has said men should wear trousers.

The kilt, he explained, first arrived in Britain care of the Vikings, who wore theirs over trousers when they came to rape and pillage the locals.

When Britons adopted the outfit themselves they lost the trousers because of their warmer climate.

Today the kilt is usually only worn at formal occasions such as weddings.

But Nicholsby hopes to change all that. He’s currently looking at doing some brand collaboration and taking the man-skirt to the people.

I want to make kilts for a big brand like Diesel. Because I do believe kilts and skirts for men will become more a focus in fashion in the coming years.

When it’s put to him that a man seen wearing a skirt these days would be considered effeminate, Nicholsby proudly declared for the last five and a half years he hasn’t worn anything but, and I don’t think anyone thinks I’m a transvestite.

People always smile and make eye contact when they see me in a kilt. It really does break down barriers and makes you very open-minded. It makes you very aware how rigid and judgmental society is, he said.

The only bad reactions he’s had to his attire have been in his homeland, where traditionalists complain kilts should all be tartan. But I just tell them I’ve been in the kilt industry all my life and they’re ignorant.

www.21stcenturykilts.co.uk for more details.

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