In the 18th century the Angus firm made sailing ropes by hand – now it’s launched a range of designer bags.
Montrose Rope & Sail was established in 1789 and spent generations producing and supplying rope and sail cloth for the marine industry.
More recently is specialised in tarpaulins and kit bags for use in the North Sea oil and gas sector.
But the oil and gas downturn led the firm to look to diversify into new markets.
Design project created premium range
Four years ago it entered a knowledge transfer partnership with Robert Gordon University’s Gray’s School of Art.
It led to the development of a new product range, Veske, which has a range of premium bags.
Amy Gair, Montrose Rope & Sail’s design and brand development manager, explained: “The aim was to design, develop and brand a new range of products, utilising the company heritage story and we have built on that as the inspiration to develop Veske.
“By introducing innovative materials, product designs and hardware, it has helped to develop a new aesthetic which forms the new range and will help us to reach a high end lifestyle accessories market.”
Covid-19 delayed launch
The company was preparing to launch the products last year when the pandemic hit.
Plans were put on hold until Veske was selected by Scottish Development International for a virtual trade mission to Japan called Project Tokyo.
There was also a physical showcase in Japan with Veske products.
“Veske has always had a strong commercial strategy with reaching international fashion and lifestyle markets a focus,” Ms Gair said.
“Showing at Project Tokyo was a great achievement for us to celebrate getting to this point.
“It was also a fresh start to kick things off again.”
The range from Veske features authentic and versatile bags it says are “suitable for everyday use and short travel breaks”.
Each bag is handmade at the company’s workshop in Montrose. They use dry waxed cotton produced by Dundee textiles firm Halley Stevensons.
Josie Steed, fashion and textiles course leader at Robert Gordon University’s Gray’s School of Art, said: “It’s wonderful to now see the work during the KTP with Montrose Rope & Sail being realised.
“The company’s ambitions of developing a high premium fashion sub-brand for the global market is now possible, bringing new economic opportunities to the company and the region.
“The Japanese market is a high value market for the Scottish industry. The biggest export market for Scottish textiles in Asia.
“Japanese consumers are already aware of what Scotland has to offer in fashion and textiles heritage.
“There is the potential to educate the Japanese market and younger consumer on Scotland’s wealth of traditional and contemporary design.
“This virtual trade mission and exhibition provided the opportunity to engage with potential new partners, find a route to market, and launch the brand.”