Pringle of Scotland: 200 years of design

Pringle of Scotland. Picture: TSPL
Pringle of Scotland. Picture: TSPL
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Pringle of Scotland has been at the heart of the Scotland’s fashion industry since being established by Robert Pringle in 1815. The firm began life in Hawick making stockings and long johns before going on to pioneer knitwear and becoming synonymous with style, quality and innovation. Holly Lennon takes a look at the 200 year history of one of Scotland’s most iconic fashion exports.

The firm began life in Hawick making stockings and long johns before going on to pioneer knitwear and becoming synonymous with style, quality and innovation.

Pringle of Scotland. Picture: TSPL

Pringle of Scotland. Picture: TSPL

Throughout its 200 year history, Pringle has pushed the boundaries of fashion and knitwear at home and abroad.

The yarn-spinning and undergarment-weaving business began as a luxury hosiery manufacturer, before moving towards making jumpers and cardigans after WW1.

The company’s first industrial designer, Otto Weisz, was the mastermind behind the introduction of the Argyle intarsia knits worn by the likes the Duke of Windsor, Grace Kelly and Brigitte Bardot in the 1940’s and 50’s. He was particularly interested in the way that garments fit the body.

Pringle took a sporty two-piece cardigan and sweater set, usually linked to the golf course retailored it into the “twinset” which, normally worn with a set of pearls, became a quintessential British ensemble. Soft woolens, traditionally used for underwear, had been transformed into stylish and figure enhancing outerwear that became iconic for Pringle of Scotland.

Margo Baird with her Pringle top. Picture: TSPL

Margo Baird with her Pringle top. Picture: TSPL

The appointment of marketing manager Bill Rodger in the 1950s brought international attention to their designs. He came up with the idea of paying Scottish actresses, such as Margaret Lockwood and Moira Sheare, as ambassadors for the brand which put their garments on the world stage.

Following the war, Pringle joined in the effort to restore Britain’s economy through an export drive which led to more lines being manufactured.

Their reign continued until the 1980s which saw the brand become a household name, popular among golfers and football casuals. In the later years, the brand’s success began to decline in the face of changing fashions and markets.

Despite being sold to the Hong Kong-based Fang family, which marked the end of production in Hawick, Pringle continues to innovate and make waves in the international fashion arena.

Pringle of Scotland at "Heringsdorf Goes Fashion". Picture: ENS KOEHLER/AFP/Getty Images

Pringle of Scotland at "Heringsdorf Goes Fashion". Picture: ENS KOEHLER/AFP/Getty Images

In 2010, the brand marked its 195th anniversary with the launch of the limited edition 195 Collaborations Collection. The company partnered with the Serpentine Gallery and invited a group of artists to design their own interpretation of the twinset. Actress Tilda Swinton was among those who brought a contemporary edge to the historic garments.

As Pringle of Scotland nears its 200th anniversary, the brand continues to be at the forefront of fashion innovation having recently collaborated with scientist Richard Beckett to create a series of 3D-printed fabrics for its Autumn Winter 2014 collection using selective laser sintering (SLS).

Maintaining the founding principles of quality, style, authenticity and innovation, Pringle continues to be an unmistakable part of Scottish history.

Fully Fashioned Pringle of Scotland Exhibition at National Museum of Scotland Tilda Swinton, Pringle of Scotland A Dimage, by Ryan McGinley in 2010

Fully Fashioned Pringle of Scotland Exhibition at National Museum of Scotland Tilda Swinton, Pringle of Scotland A Dimage, by Ryan McGinley in 2010