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Inside Highlandwear: Sporrans

Nothing gets the attention of visitors to our Canongate shop like the fur and leather pouches hanging on our walls. 

‘Are they handbags?’ 

GNK: ‘No, they’re sporrans.’

‘What’s does ‘sporran’ mean…?’

GNK: ‘Well, actually, it’s Gaelic for ‘purse’.’

‘So they’re purses…?’

GNK: ‘No, they’re sporrans.’

‘But what IS a sporran?’

GNK: ‘Excellent question.’

Sporrans are pockets. Pockets for kilts. Because kilts don’t have pockets. You see? They serve as a wallet and a container for any other necessary personal items. Lighter, hip flask, lucky Lego man - feel free to get creative. Unlike pockets, however, sporrans sit at the front. Over what we delicately refer to as your groin, area or, erm, bits. Sporrans today are typically worn on a chain, although older styles may hang from a leather strap or kilt belt.

Made of leather, fur and metal (although not necessarily all three at the same time) sporrans should be matched to your shoes and the formality of your outfit. Happily, they are broken down into handy categories to ensure you get the right one for the occasion.


Traditional sporrans hark back to the common European medieval belt-pouch from which all sporrans are descended. Made entirely of leather, they hang from a ‘whang’ or kilt belt.

A popular choice amongst devotees of pre-nineteenth century highlandwear, Traditional sporrans make for a distinctive accessory worn with an informal kilt outfit or the ideal companion for bounding through the heather in full Highland garb. 

How To Wear It:

The rugged outdoor feel of Traditional sporrans is well suited to green Tweeds, rough knits and the feileadh mòr (‘great plaid’).

Shop Traditional Sporrans


Day sporrans do just what they say on the tin, providing a simple solution to the age-old problem of where to keep your car keys. All-leather shovel pouches with minimal adornment, they represent practical everyday highlandwear at its very best.

A wardrobe staple for men who wear kilts on a daily basis, and a popular choice amongst gentlemen who prefer an understated look for informal occasions. 

How To Wear It:

Paired with a Tweed for a quiet, classy finish - let the leather sing.

Shop Day Sporrans

Semi Dress

A relatively recent addition to the highlandwear canon, Semi Dress sporrans are showier than Day sporrans and a little less ostentatious than Dress. They combine a leather flap and a hair hide in seal or bovine.

Designed to meet the growing need for ‘transitional’ highlandwear, which can be worn to both informal and formal occasions, Semi Dress sporrans are a popular choice with gentlemen looking for a luxurious ‘one stop’ solution that marries traditional craftsmanship to contemporary needs.

How To Wear It:

Semi Dress sporrans are the twin flame of Holyrood jackets. They will also look beautiful with a Tweed, and are a popular choice for grooms, reluctant to go full-on Dress sporran. Older men may choose to pair a Semi Dress with an Argyll.

Shop Semi Dress Sporrans


Dress sporrans have been an essential element of formal Highlandwear since the nineteenth century - although they are a little less in-your-face than in their Victorian heyday. 

Today, dress sporrans range from the ornate (think solid silver filigree and an exotic fur) to the relatively low-key (antique finish and seal skin). Their defining features are a metal cantle (named after the back of a saddle, don’t you know) and a fur front.

A popular accompaniment to a first kilt and a must-have for regular attendees of black tie events.

How To Wear It:

A dress sporran is an essential accompaniment to a Prince Charlie, and to Argylls worn on formal occasions. The introduction of bronze and copper cantles into the category, means some Dress sporrans can be be worn with brown accessories to amp up a Tweed.  

Shop Dress Sporrans


For the gentleman who likes to make an entrance, you can’t beat a mask sporran. Made from the head of an animal, such as badger, musquash or fox, it’s sure to get everyone talking.

How To Wear It:

With a Prince Charlie or Argyll for High Victorian glamour, or for a Laird of the Manor take on a Tweed.

Shop Mask Sporrans

Piper & Regimental

The regulations and conventions surrounding piper and regimental sporrans are as complex as the pipes and regiments themselves. But suffice to say they’re made of horsehair - and if you don’t understand what they represent, you shouldn’t be buying one. 

Shop Piper & Regimental Sporrans