Don't Mingle, Wear Pringle
Working from home and cosying up on the couch needn’t mean compromising on style as Pringle of Scotland’s Menswear Design Director Giuseppe Marretta joins us to talk about his first collection for the 205-year-old brand.
The 38-year-old Italian jersey genius tells us how architecture, art and the iconic argyle sweater all wrap up to a cool lockdown look as he reveals the inspirations behind the David Hockney splashes, reimagined classic logos and intricate intarsia designs.
Always ahead of the game, since Robert Pringle set up the mill in Hawick to make hosiery, Pringle of Scotland’s skilled workforce have led the way creating innovative and iconic lambswool and cashmere creations. Today it’s no different with recycled, re-issued and retro designs blending with brand new cutting edge vibes to give us the latest collection online from the brand that literally invented the word “knitwear”.
Who are you? What is your job? How old are you? Where are you based?
My name is Giuseppe Marretta. I’m a 38-year-old designer from Milan, now living in London and working at Pringle of Scotland as the Menswear Design Director.
What’s a typical day for you?
I try to walk to the office as often as possible – it gives me the time to think and be inspired by everything around me. London is full of inspiration and ideas. When I arrive I meet with my team and discuss how the collections are progressing, look at sketches, perhaps do a couple of fittings for new pieces. Then when I’m home it’s usually fairly low-key – perhaps chilling with a glass of wine.
What is your training/background?
I have a degree in Architecture from Politecnico di Torino, and one in fashion and textile design from IED (the Istituto Europeo di Design), Milan. My interest in architecture has often influenced my work, and an in-depth study of textiles drew me to knitwear. My career began as a menswear designer for a small bespoke company called Sartoria Santandrea, before I joined Ermenegildo Zegna, where I further developed my knitwear experience. I then joined Giorgio Armani as head of the knitwear and jersey collections.
How long have you worked for Pringle of Scotland and how does is compare with your previous jobs?
I joined Pringle last April, and I don’t think it compares with any previous role. I head up the Menswear division and implement the inspiration and starting points for each collection alongside my team – I can express myself through the collections much more. It is like sharing my point of view with the world. As a knitwear specialist, the opportunity to join a brand that has knitwear at the heart of its DNA is a dream. We have access to such a huge archive and iconic history, it’s the perfect foundation for bringing new ideas and expressions to life.
Can you tell us about your first collection for Pringle of Scotland?
Delivering my first collection was an intense experience. I joined in April and presented the collection in Paris in June. The inspiration came from iconic facets of British culture: the preppy university traditions, men’s tailoring and the Prince of Wales fabric, argyle, rugby stripes. The colour palette and new motifs were inspired by the art and personal style of David Hockney.
What are the highlights of the collection?
The collection introduced The Diver – an original artwork inspired by Hockney. It features as an oversized intarsia design and an embroidered badge. We used the same element to evolve the classic Pringle P into a “splashing” emblem and used this as playful punctuation throughout the collection. We also used some interesting printing techniques to recreate the reflection of water.
Why was David Hockney chosen as an inspiration?
I’ve always been a great admirer of his work. But rather than the famous swimming pools as the starting point, it was actually a photo of a young Hockney wearing a striped rugby shirt in a bold colour combination. It seemed the perfect place for the link between British sporting tradition and the use of colour I was looking for, then as I evolved the connections, we brought in Hockney’s famous stylistic approach to his work as well.
What’s different about Pringle of Scotland compared with other fashion houses and knitwear brands?
Our age. The brand celebrates its 205th birthday this year and this heritage is a huge badge of honour for us. There
are so many culturally significant moments in Pringle’s history and this nostalgia – combined with a constant desire to innovate in knitwear – keeps Pringle reinventing and moving forward.
How is the heritage of the brand reflected in the designs?
There are many design markers and signatures particular to Pringle’s own DNA. The most famous, of course, is the argyle – a Pringle-pioneered pattern everyone knows and loves – but there’s so much more! From a deep-dive into the archives I came across bespoke illustrations, embroidered sporting motifs and reinventions of classic stitches and patterns. Pringle was often ahead of its time, both in terms of design and techniques. It’s this dynamic and aspect of our heritage that I’ve wanted to re-explore in my designs.
What is the fun part of your job?
Bringing a collection to life. Sketching, seeing the first prototypes, thinking about creative ways to present the collections to press and
What are your biggest sellers, perennials?
Our classic crew-neck cashmere jumper is and always will be a best seller for us on Men’s. It’s a great staple for every man’s wardrobe – it works across the seasons and we are constantly adding new colourways.
It’s been very exciting however to see such an amazing reaction to the new collection too.
There’s been a lot of interest in the Diver motif in particular, and the colourful rugby stripe styles seem to have made some new friends.
Which items do you have at home?
Of course, I’d say all of them! But this is actually true – I design the things I love to wear myself.
What’s your style philosophy?
I think it’s mostly about not being afraid to take risks – whether in the choice of a particular colour combination or challenging the rules and mixing up styles. I do take inspiration from current trends, and our heritage, but I adapt them to suit my personal character and view of the world.
Who has influenced your style, what are your inspirations?
This has evolved over the years. When I started out, I was hugely inspired by Tom Ford’s aesthetic at Gucci – he studied a similar degree in Architecture so I related to him in more ways than one. As I’ve developed as a designer, I tend to draw more inspiration from abstract sources rather than style icons. I pick up details from architectural structures, or particular imagery in art, which I try to bring into my own creations.
What is the future for Pringle of Scotland and the menswear collection?
It’s an exciting time – we opened our new store on George Street in Edinburgh last year, and we’re very proud to be back in Scotland.
The industry is shifting and evolving so much at the moment – whether that’s the exploration of more sustainable production techniques or how men are shopping and wearing fashion.
When we talk about the future we’re talking about the next generation – so it’s important to me to create something that appeals to them: fusing the past in our heritage, the present in our current view of the industry, and the future in thinking about what might come next.
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