ENJOY A QUARTER CENTURY OF STORIES FROM SPORT KILT’S FOUNDER, JAMES ANSITE.
AS A REBELLIOUS TEENAGER, ALL I WANTED WAS A KILT.
I saw Axl Rose on MTV and watched my hero Rowdy Roddy Piper dominate in the WWF ring while wearing kilts, and that was just so badass looking to me. Of course, back then there weren’t any kilts for sale on the internet, only some mail order catalogs that sold them for $600 and took months to ship.
NO PROBLEM, I THOUGHT. I’LL JUST MAKE ONE.
So my dad Jim and I laid some green flannel fabric out on our garage ping pong table, cut the pattern, and began pleating and sewing the kilt with velcro as the closing mechanism. That was the very first Sport Kilt, though of course I didn’t know it at the time. I just wanted to look cool in front of my friends.
TO THE TRACK THE KILT WENT.
I used to race bikes at the Olympic Velodrome track in Compton, CA. The first time I wore my new kilt to a training session there, my teammates were obsessed with it. I made kilts for the whole team and we would put them on to “air out” after riding in our bike shorts. Eventually we started wearing them for longer and longer, not changing back to “regular” shorts and jeans and rocking our kilts out to dinner and on the town.
MY DAD GOT THE SPORT KILT ONLINE STORE UP IN 1996.
He taught himself HTML to do it! He also found a local sportswear shop in Long Beach that produced our kilts for the first few years, until we decided to upgrade the quality and make everything in-house in 2000. We ran the company out of our house in Seal Beach for about five years, and we’d do photoshoots around the house with our 1.2 megapixel camera and put them up on the website. Our so-called “Wall of Fame” was a big hit in the pre-social media days.
AS THE SITE GOT MORE POPULAR, THE WORLD STARTED OPENING UP.
Everything changed when we discovered the amazing Highland Games community. Turns out Sport Kilts were perfect for athletes competing in the hot sun, plus kilts just made the whole spirit of the festivals feel more authentic. I did the West Coast circuit for a few years, introducing our product to athletes and fans, and met some nice vendors along the way that would end up carrying our products at events we couldn’t attend. We started hearing from people all over the world using our kilts for different activities besides cycling and Highland Games, and we realized that our products were perfect for just about any activity you can think of. Some people want to feel a connection to their heritage, and some just want to stand out from the crowd and be different like I did back as a teenager.
THE SCOTTISH CONNECTION WAS A SURPRISE.
I didn’t really know much about the historic importance of kilts and tartans when we started, but the more research I did the more fascinating things I learned. Like the fact that my ancestors were Scottish – MacGregor on my mom’s side, and Buchanan on my dad’s. Later on I would learn that a vast portion of Americans have Scottish ancestry, especially among the Appalachian trail thru-hikers and bluegrass musicians I would meet along trail-days. Our customers are not shy to teach me about Scottish, Irish and Celtic culture on a daily basis, proving what I suspected all along – kilts are the best conversation starters!
WE OUTGREW OUR GARAGE.
With so many kilts in production, we moved into our first 500 square foot warehouse in Signal Hill, where we would set up shop for the next 20 years. At our peak we had a full 9000 square feet being used for staff and inventory.
I GOT TO HANG WITH MY HERO.
We did a photoshoot with Rowdy Roddy Piper and “Mean” Gene Okerlund in a backyard wrestling ring in Simi Valley. Seeing Roddy put on the Sport Kilt we made for him was surreal. He was actually super quiet and soft-spoken until the cameras started rolling, at which point his Rowdy alter ego was fully activated and he taunted me the whole time from the mat. It was a blast. When I asked him why he wears a black kilt, he said with a straight face, “because all my friends are dead.” We were saddened to learn of his too-soon passing in 2015. RIP Roddy!
“WOW, WHAT A COOL NAME – POST!”
That’s what I said to the nice young (heavily-tattooed) gentleman who walked into Sport Kilt HQ by himself several years ago. He introduced himself as Post and told me he wanted a kilt, so I showed him around not thinking anything of it. A few years later I saw him on TV, the now world famous Post Malone.
WE TRADED THE BEACH FOR THE MOUNTAINS IN 2019.
That’s when we moved our operation to Utah along with five of our twelve employees. We love our new location, and being here reminds us of the reasons we started the company in the first place – to be free, take chances, and try something new. We’ve made so many people happy over the course of 25 years, and our kilts have literally changed peoples lives. Sport Kilt continues to bring joy to all who are brave enough to wear what we proudly make and call, Sport Kilt.
GO BETWEEN TWO KILTS WITH US
Between Two Kilts: Episode 1
Founder James & Skinner answer the age-old question: “Why wear a kilt in the first place?”
Between Two Kilts: Episode 2
Founder James Ansite and Sport Kilt Ambassador Parker Filmore talk kilts
GRAB YER’SELF A PIECE OF HISTORY
We’re re-releasing vintage designs and bringing back some of our original designs, in honor of our 25th anniversary. While times have changed, the desire to be free is just as important to us now it was back then.
VINTAGE FREEDOM T-SHIRT
MACCHILLIN’ COMFY KILT
RETRO FREEDOM T-SHIRT
REMEMBER WHAT SPORT KILT LOOKED LIKE WAY BACK WHEN?
Have fun reminiscing with the previous versions of sportkilt.com