In 1815, Robert Pringle founded Pringle of Scotland in Hawick, on the Scottish Borders, making it one of the oldest fashion brands in the world. In 1956, HM The Queen awarded the company a Royal Warrant and one of the most treasured notes in the brand archives is from Clarence House simply requesting ‘New cardigan, please’. 

Despite its 200-year history, Pringle has always been a thoroughly modern, pioneering company, with an impressive list of ‘firsts’ to its name. Not only was it the first to coin the term ‘knitwear’, it was the first to use the intarsia design that became the Argyle pattern so beloved by the Duke of Windsor in the 1920s. It was also the first to produce the twinset, which featured on the cover of Vogue in 1955 and was widely adopted by British and Hollywood royalty.

Today, Pringle continues to pioneer British knitwear and champion British heritage. Each season the company also looks at new ways to reconnect with its iconic Scottish past.

The Duke of Windsor’s adored Argyle pattern is one such example, and both the women’s pre-fall and men’s Autumn/Winter 2018 collections celebrate and reinterpret this classic pattern. For women’s knitwear it is mixed with another traditional pattern, Fair Isle, for a statement knit presented on classic cashmere in contrasting colours.

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In the men’s collection the relationship between Argyle and traditional tartan is explored, combining the two for a new hybrid pattern. Classic Argyle is also reinterpreted to create a ‘broken’ diamond effect.

Another important part of the brand’s visual heritage is the iconic Pringle lion, first introduced on garment labels in 1934. Also referred to as the ‘lion rampant’, the emblem traditionally symbolises bravery, nobility, strength and valour, hence its use on the coat of arms of royal heraldry throughout Britain and Europe. The Pringle lion still features on both the men’s and women’s knitwear, interpreted in different ways for the latest collections.

But it’s not just about referencing an illustrious past, it’s also about innovating for the future. The new womenswear collection showcases an example of this inventiveness: printing designs directly onto knitwear, giving a contemporary, sporty finish.

Wallace Shaw, Pringle’s Head Designer in the 1960s, first introduced the technique and, as Fran Stringer, Womenswear Design Director, comments, ‘Finding Wallace Shaw’s archive designs introduced us once again to Pringle as an innovator – applying print techniques to knitwear in a way that had never been done before. I always want to balance pride in our heritage with a celebration of the advancements
in fashion and manufacturing.’

For its 200th anniversary in 2015, Pringle worked with National Museums Scotland to curate an exhibition charting the company’s long history and celebrating the relevance of knitwear in contemporary fashion. The show also demonstrated an irrefutable truth: it’s thanks to Robert Pringle that knitwear has such a prominent place in the lives and wardrobes of men and women around the world.