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Highland rebel with a cause talks about her 'no-bra club' and new shop in Inverness

By Rachel Smart

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Clare Campbell, Rebel Row business owner. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Clare Campbell, Rebel Row business owner. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Union Court’s anchor tenant in Inverness has had a positive first full month in the new development.

Rebel Row – which is run by Prickly Thistle – was the first to take up residence in the old Arnott’s building just before Christmas.

Prickly Thistle was founded in 2018 and has a mill based in Evanton; however, owner Clare Campbell and her team felt that it was time to bring in a shop element for people to come and see the clothes.

Clare said: “It was nerve-wracking at first, as it’s something new for people. We are a local brand for local people. What we do comes with huge stereotypes, which can be like a ball and chain, as we do tartan.

"But we are here to do something different and give the story of tartan a new chapter! I’ve been overwhelmed at how local people have received us, and who have found out our brand has been on the go since 2018 – we are super excited!

"It was challenging for people to get to where we are based in Evanton. We are not used to going to the places where things are made – we live in a society where everything is on the shelf and it’s all there.

Rebel Row interior. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Rebel Row interior. Picture: James Mackenzie.

"I think because it wasn’t normal for us to walk into the places where they are making products, for a lot of local people, they didn’t want to come to the mill!

"I finally understood that people needed a shop – so we thought we need to take what we do and bridge the gap of knowledge and perception and provide them with a place to go.”

Being the first tenant in the development may seem like a risk, but for Clare, it's just part and parcel of who she is.

For her, Rebel Row and Prickly Thistle is not about having a scaled-up business, but instead about challenging the way we consume and buy products and providing a different way for people to live.

She makes it clear that they are not a ‘fashion brand’ but instead a ‘clothing brand’ that provides what people need.

2020 tartan. Picture: James Mackenzie.
2020 tartan. Picture: James Mackenzie.

She said: “Fashion changes all the time, and we live in a time where we consume so much. We are about clothing people and providing clothes that last and do not go to waste.

"All our clothes do not harm fabric – nothing is wasted. We don’t use buttons or zips, and everything is done for the shape of the body and the fabric.

"On the front of it, we are weavers and we make tartan, but we are fundamentally about so much more, and we are about creating change for the greater good.

"We have no ambition to be a big scalable company or brand. We are so ambitious in terms of scaling impact. We have a sentiment and activism – we live in a world where so many things are harmful to us in textiles. It’s incredible how much oil is everything.

"Our clothes fund a rebellion, and what we want to make change in. We are really proud of the collection!”

Rebel Row. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Rebel Row. Picture: James Mackenzie.

With a deep sense of passion and conviction for change in the way we consume and how we challenge the powers that be, Clare is setting up a ‘No-bra club’ at Rebel Row on the last Thursday evening of each month.

She said: "I want to bring a tribe of women together who want to make a change! We aren’t on social media, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t social – we are a lot of fun! I'm calling it the 'no-bra club' and it will be a place for like-minded people to meet and make a positive impact."

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