“Carpet search” is what my friend describes my frenzy of finding the Slow Stitch artists I admire all over the world. In fact, I forgot how I located Mr. Heinrich MacChu, who is always meticulously dressed in traditional Scottish attire. It’s not unusual to find communities of Scottish kilt enthusiasts in the Western world, but he is, a native of Hong Kong.
I found him on the internet.
He discovered history in video games,
Searches for antique clothing on Ebay,
Picks up craftsman skills from Youtube videos.
Then we started our DM conversation on Instagram.
Heinrich pulls out kilts that are rolled and stored in cloth bags. He says that it’s the best way to keep a kilt. He got his first kilt from a local supplier of Highland supplies in Hong Kong.
When this young man, who is still studying fashion design, talks about the history, tools, fabrics, and stitches required to make kilts, he seems very knowledgeable; even more so than many professional designers. I am curious if his interest is cultivated by his family. “No. Not really. There’s not much interest in things like kilt-making from my parents or others from their generation. It’s the online world that makes it easy for me to get in touch with what I love and want to learn.”
As a child, he would study the background and history of toy manufacturers before deciding whether to buy a particular toy; it’s as though he was born a history enthusiast. In primary school, he gave himself his first English name, Jeffery, taking inspiration from Zhang Fei in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. He wasn’t much into gaming when he became a junior in middle school. Instead, his fellow classmates got him into military culture. He started doing re-enactments and wearing military clothes. It was at that time that he said goodbye to modern clothing.
由起初研究衣飾勳章的歷史，到動手製作皮具，後來多得年輕時從事製衣業的婆婆教他縫紉；到了3年前開始研究起蘇格蘭裙，他就從Ebay的charity store入手這部手動式的古董車衣機，慢慢一針一針地攪動，學習造衣。Heinrich由恤衫造起，從網上購買紙樣，在Youtube學上袖，再到處尋覓老師傅學造背心西裝。直到現在，他以90%手針縫製的蘇格蘭裙、由Pleat to the Stripe（以主條主導摺褶）到維多利亞時期才開始的Pleat to the Set（摺褶後重現原格子圖案），以至五碼的、八碼的蘇格蘭裙，每一個細節、飾物的歷史和用途，一舉手一投足都能一一細説典故。
In the beginning, he focused on studying the history of military clothing and medals. Later on, he got into leather and eventually picked up sewing from his grandma, who used to be in the clothing industry. Three years ago, he started to study kilts and got a vintage manual sewing machine from the charity store on Ebay. Stitch by stitch, he began making clothes, starting with shirts. He would buy patterns from the internet and learn how to attach sleeves from Youtube. Next, he moved on to vests and suits and started learning from experienced tailors. He can now make a kilt with 90% of it being hand-stitched. From pleating to the stripe to Victorian pleating to the set, and from 5 yard kilts to 8 yard kilts, every detail, history and use of the kilts and accessories is known to him by heart.
Watch fob handmade by Heinrich with coins from the British Hong Kong era, leather bag made with horsehair from a violin bow, Balmoral bonnet (a traditional Scottish hat), Sgian Dubh (a small knife that is tucked into the kilt hose), and handmade bowtie. Everything is meticulous.
“I have about a dozen shirts, ten kilts, five sets of jacket and vest for spring and summer and another eight sets for autumn and winter. And I really want to have a tailcoat and a morning coat. I think I have more than a Scottish soldier in the past would have! They were only allotted a piece of flannel every year which would be used to make a skirt, cloak, quilt, drapery, or cross-body bag that was often tied around the shoulder. They would make use of every single inch of the fabric, even the scrap white cotton thread from alterations would be reused.”
一年前他以House of Shepherd為名開始蘇格蘭裙的訂製服務，客人有本地的，也有來自蘇格蘭的英式文化愛好者。他笑說：「可能我的嗜好比較窄，同學們在打機時，我就造衣服，所以還可以兼顧學業、訂單和造自己的服飾吧！」
A year ago, he started House of Shepherd custom tailoring kilts for customers. He has served locals and even British culture enthusiasts from Scotland. He laughed, “I don’t have a lot of hobbies. While my classmates are gaming, I am making clothes. I managed to strike a balance between studies, doing business, and making clothes for myself!”
Heinrich feels that he doesn’t belong to this era, it is as if he has traveled to the modern world and disdains fast fashion. After graduation, he may continue to make clothes, or further his study of history. He thinks that due to global warming, kilts will possibly once again become a popular outfit for people, just like how King George reinvented the kilt-wearing tradition. He also hopes that people can be their own designers or even tailors in the future.