The Alma Tartan

Tartan is a woven fabric comprising a variety of thread colors that are intertwined into horizontal and vertical bands of various widths as to produce a multicolored-checkered or plaid result. This art form developed to its present state in Scotland where it became known as tartan. Since then, the tartan has been called “the fabric of Scotland’s heritage.”

To celebrate our Scottish heritage here at Alma College, we developed a tartan of our own, which was made in Scotland in early 1996 and was officially registered on Sept. 28, 1999, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. Since then it has been entered in the International Registry of Tartans — an arm of the International Association of Tartan Studies (an affiliate with the Scottish Tartans Authority).

Because the Alma Tartan is considered an official symbol of Alma College, the tartan fabric is used only for official college uses and is not available for purchase or rent. In general, the wearing of an Alma College tartan kilt is limited to executive officers of the college, the Kiltie Marching Band and the college mascot.

The Alma Tartan is unique and exclusive to Alma College and is a key visual element in the college’s identity. Please consult the Communication and Marketing Office if you have any questions on acceptable use.

Plaid vs. Tartan

The tartan pays homage to Alma’s Scottish heritage and complements the school colors of maroon and cream. Visually, it is Alma’s most distinctive trait. Because of this, the Alma Tartan has become a key visual element to the college’s “Plaid Works” branding effort.

Some alumni have asked about the use of the word “plaid” versus “tartan.” Research shows that the words can be used interchangeably, and testing showed that increased use of the plaid was a big hit with prospective and current students, alumni, faculty and staff. While “plaid” resonates with prospective students, rest assured that we will often call it “tartan” when communicating with our “true Scot” alumni.