Why I started GlengarryHats.com


My son took up the bagpipes with the 96th Highlanders Pipes and Drums of Saskatoon in 2000. During development of the website for this local pipe and drum band, I performed research on the history of the band's name and lineage. In my research travels I encountered images of the orginal 96th Battalion, Canadian Highlanders of the World War 1 Canadian Expeditionary Force and of the Saskatoon Boys' Pipe Band.

I was immensely curious about the uniforms worn by both of these bands, and started to investigate what it would cost to outfit my son in a traditional highland piper uniform. I was in for a shock when I discovered these types of uniforms and accoutrements brand new from military contractors were priced so high it was simply out of reach for an average family like ours, particularly when the wearer would be outgrowing the uniform in a few short years. Apparently, traditional piper uniforms were only for the rich or those organizations with a license to spend government money.

What's Available

I was not detered in my search for reasonably priced uniforms, and continued to 'scour the earth' for suppliers that offered the best combination of quality and price. I started my search for a traditional piper doublet and have created the following comparitive chart to show my preliminary research results:

Item Quality Pricing
Piper Doublet Made in UK Mil Spec "If you have to ask, you can't afford it"
Piper Doublet Made in Canada Mil Spec $500 - $900 USD
Piper Doublet Made in USA Good $350 - $700 USD
2 pc. Wool Suit, Made in Canada Good $150 USD
Leather Coat, made in China Good $100 USD

I discovered a single wool piper doublet sells for the same price as 3 - 6 good quality 2 piece wool suits or 3 - 9 full length good quality leather coats. How does that work?

Sourcing Manufacturers

I contacted several offshore manufacturers and made inquiries about having traditional wool piper doublets custom made. This was not an easy experience as almost all manufacturers indicated "we can do anything, for cheap", with several manufacturers actually using product images that were obviously copied from high priced competitors websites.

I determined the only way to discover the quality of these products was to order thousands of dollars in samples from each of the manufacturers. I put in several orders for Glengarry hats, Balmoral hats, and piper doublets. This was a very unpleasant experience as several manufacturers simply stole my money and never delivered any product. Product samples that were received varied wildly in quality, fit, and price from excellent quality to garbage quality.

After many months of dealing with various suppliers and their products, I eventually built solid relationships with those manufacturers that actually delivered on the best combination of quality, price, and service.

"Made in the UK" ?

  • All products are made to my specifications in Pakistan, from manufacturers who export 80% of their products directly to the UK.
  • In my research of "genuine" highland suppliers, not a single website indicates any of their products are being made offshore.
  • How can this be when there is a thriving highland product manufacturing industry that employs hundreds, if not thousands of people in Pakistan that primarily exports to the UK?
  • Most websites proudly state "Made in the UK" for only a handful of products, while the country of manufacture of the hundreds of other products they sell is never mentioned.
  • It is my understanding that in the UK, simply sewing or stamping "Made in the UK" onto a finished product that was made offshore qualifies that product to be sold as "Made in the UK".
  • This is presumably legitimate "regional value content" being added to "raw" import materials.
  • The net result is you may be paying "Made in the UK" prices for products that were actually made offshore.

GlengarryHats.com Products and Services

I was very disappointed with the overall web retail shopping experience from most highland product web sites, which I describe as "Here is a poor quality postage stamp sized photograph, please send us your money". As a web developer I decided to build an e-commerce website to offer for sale my own line of highland products, with the following objectives:

  • I will not sell what I have not seen. All products offered have been personally inspected for quality and fit to ensure the customer will be satisfied with their purchase.
  • Only my original images of actual products will be used.
  • All colour and styling options will be accurately presented in photographs so the customer knows for sure what they are actually buying.
  • Prices will be affordable, from 30% to 70% less than other online retailers.
  • Pricing will be offered in all major currencies.
  • Shipping options will be clearly displayed and provided at cost, plus $1 - $5 for packaging.

The Future

Although my initial product offerings are Glengarry hats, Balmoral hats, and traditionally styled pipe band doublets, I will continue to add to my product line as customer demand requires, while maintaining the above objectives.

Ian Parenteau, September 2005
330 10th Street East
Saskatoon, SK S7N 0C7
e-mail: ian@glengarryhats.com

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