From the Scottish highlands to the West Virginia mountains, WVU tartan becomes part of centuries-old tradition
If there’s one thing members of the West Virginia University community have in common, it’s pride in the old gold and blue. Thanks to the design efforts of a student in the school’s Division of Design & Merchandising, Mountaineer fans will be able to add an official gold and blue tartan to their wardrobes.
“After a brief introduction to the history of tartans, interested students were given the challenge of creating a tartan that would capture both the history of West Virginia University and their creative talents in design,” Lentz said.
Four students submitted more than 20 designs for the faculty of the Division of Design & Merchandising to consider. Out of all the possibilities, one design by Maria Belcher, an interior design student from St. Albans, W.Va., stood out from the rest.
- Maria Belcher
“Maria’s design was well-balanced, creative, and represented the WVU spirit,” Lentz said.
Once selected, the tartan underwent the registration process with the Scottish Register of Tartans in Edinburgh, Scotland.
“The tartan will be woven using both wool and alpaca fiber by some of the best mills in the world, including Woolrich of Pennsylvania and Capon Bridge Fiber Works of Capon Bridge, W.Va.,” Lentz said.
Belcher is still adjusting to the idea of contributing to the fabric of WVU’s history.
“I decided to enter the design contest because I thought that, for a few hours of my time, I could have something incredibly unique to add to my resume,” she said. “It wasn’t until after I had been told that my tartan was being passed on to the University’s licensing office that I realized what could potentially happen.
“Gold and Blue don’t just represent the university to me,” she said, “they represent a way of life. The students and faculty, the people of Morgantown and other fans across the state truly bleed gold and blue. They wear the colors to show their support on game day and wear them with pride on any other day because they are proud to be a West Virginian and even more proud to be a Mountaineer.
“The thought that I could be walking around campus and pass a fellow student who’s wearing a scarf of my tartan plaid made me swell with pride,” Belcher said. “That my design will contribute to WVU’s history is an amazing feeling. I could see friends wearing pajama pants with my design, people using a blanket at a football game … It’s just a really exciting thought.”
She describes her design process for the tartan as “definitely trial and error. I probably made 15 different patterns and then chose my favorite ones to tweak a little before I sent them in to the selection committee.”
The trial and error paid off: “I am just incredibly thankful for this opportunity and cannot wait until I can go to the official tartan registry website so I can see my name listed beside West Virginia University as the credited designer.”
The Scottish Register of Tartans is Scotland’s national registry of tartan designs, managed by the National Archives of Scotland. Over the centuries, clans, communities, countries, and colleges have registered their official tartans with the organization. Other colleges and universities with registered tartan designs include Georgetown University, Virginia Tech, and Auburn.
Products made from the new WVU tartan, initially scarves and lap blankets, will be available to the Mountaineer Nation through Collegiate Tartan. For additional information, please visit Collegiate Tartan’s web site at http://www.collegiatetartan.com/.
CONTACT: David Welsh, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.