Heritage is an interesting subject when enough decades have passed to allow for a long view of traditional mores. We celebrate the advent of London Fashion Week tomorrow (September 15) with a look at an iconic fashion brand with heritage in its DNA, bespoke cashmere among its lauded wares and an echo of the Bruce Andrews Design lineage given its country of origin.
A Disruptive Heritage is the Ultimate Luxury
I’m speaking of Pringle of Scotland, which was founded in 1815 in Hawick, the birthplace of the Scottish knitwear industry. If the words cashmere and knitwear bring your grandmother to mind, best to reimagine the textiles, as this brand has always been innovative and its leaders unabashedly forward-thinking. Take the fashion house’s collections when its ensembles take to the runways during London Fashion Week twice each year—the newest to debut this coming Monday, September 19th—as they are quite comfortable in contemporary times.
“Pringle was really ahead of their time and eager to experiment,” says Wallace Shaw, the company’s design director from 1972 through 1978, in the above video celebrating the exhibition “From Hawick to Hollywood,” curated by the Borders Textile Towerhouse Museum and the BA Fashion and Theory students of Central Saint Martins.
Tilda Swinton From Hawick to Hollywood
Tilda Swinton, one of the Hollywood celebrities featured in the exhibition, designed her own ensemble based upon an outfit of her mother’s. She also starred in the short film below by Ryan McGinley. It was produced by Pringle of Scotland and it features Swinton in and handful of their #SS10 debuts. The actress in the flowing chemise-like gowns moving through the lush scenery is simply stunning.
A Bit of Pringle of Scotland History
From the beginning, technical innovation was in the company’s make-up, as it became one of the first luxury knitwear manufacturers in the world, expanding throughout Europe, the US and Asia during the 19th and 20th centuries. Pringle has been knitting cashmere since the 1870s when it began as a luxury hosiery manufacturer, expanding into underwear before setting its sights on outerwear.
The company was later credited with creating the intarsia design known today as the Pringle signature argyle pattern, which was immediately adopted by the Duke of Windsor and the fashionable set of the time.
Pringle also took a sporty two-piece cardigan and sweater set from the golf course and retailored it to create the”‘twinset,” and an iconic British style was born.
In March 2000, a new chapter began when a new brand vision and forward-thinking key strategies were put in place that would take the business more resolutely into the international luxury arena. Then, in 2010, the year that marked Pringle’s 195th anniversary, the launch of the limited edition 195 Collaborations Collection brought further attention to the brand, the collection driven by the company’s desire to promote and support emerging Scottish talent.
The effort was brought to fruition through a partnership with the Serpentine Galleries, renowned for its curators’ tastes in modern and contemporary art and their programming that realizes new modern architectural projects. Pringle of Scotland worked with the gallery’s director Julia Peyton-Jones and co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist to curate a series of artists’ multiples that were inspired by iconic products, such as the twinset and the argyle pattern.
Participating artists in the first wave included Turner Prize winners Douglas Gordon and Richard Wright, Luke Fowler, Ryan McGinley, David Shrigley and Tilda Swinton. Second phase contributor’s included i-D’s Terry jones and Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos and Nick Mccarthy. A decade later, the #AW10 campaign would reunite the brand with Tilda Swinton and Ryan McGinley (in the film featured above).
“The opportunity for Pringle of Scotland to collaborate with the Serpentine gallery to tell our story and promote Scottish craft and creativity is a fabulous way to celebrate our 195th anniversary,” remarked the company’s CEO Mary-Adair Macaire.
Not one to rest on any laurels, the company set a new technological milestone with its #AW14 collection. Innovations were the focus once again, as the head of design, Massimo Nicosia, collaborated with architect and material scientist, Richard Beckett to create a series of 3D-printed fabrics never seen before within a ready-to-wear collection (in the above video). It was the first 3D-printed knitwear to ever be produced. The runway show took place in one of my favorite London interiors, the Savile Club.
As we await the newest releases, I’ll share Luke Leitch’s review of the last collection to debut—the #AW16 Ready-to-Wear, which was the first for design director Fran Stringer. Writing for Vogue, he summed up her premiere: “This debut runway collection showcased the technical virtuosity in knitwear that we expect to see at Pringle, a house that is deeply engaged with spinning yarns on its two-century backstory. What Stringer’s introduction provided was a jolt to the way in which that virtuosity was expressed: It has been a long time since Pringle looked so blissed out, relaxed, and easy to wear.” In closing, he added, “This was a fine start from Stringer: Let’s hope she stays so chilled.”
I’m looking forward to seeing the ensembles that sway down the runway next week, each creation built upon the same principle as Bruce Andrews’ limited-edition furniture, which includes Collection Skye and the Azure Collection that will be debuting next month during a special event at the Bienenstock Furniture Library during High Point Market.
This post, A Disruptive Heritage Fresh from Scotland, © Bruce Andrews Design, all rights reserved. Our furniture is now available through Nandina Home in Aiken, SC; Jalan Jalan in Miami, FL; Travis & Company in ADAC in Atlanta; and the Ellouise Abbott showroom in Dallas, TX. We will soon be showing in the Ellouise Abbott showroom in Houston and in the Michael-Cleary showroom in Chicago, IL.