Fran Stringer, creative director of Pringle of Scotland, knows how to design for historic British houses. Her credentials include stints at Aquascutum, Mulberry and now she’s at the 200-year-old Pringle. One might ask: how is Pringle of Scotland relevant now? For Stringer, the impelling force to continue operations is to fuse tradition with innovation. Her Spring 2018 show, presented at One Marylebone, was a powerful example in this. Knitwear: It connotes to cold weather, thick fabrics, warmth, the act of staying warm in the face of chilliness. Knitwear for Spring? Questionable, understandably This is one of those brands tasked with addressing the adaptability of knitwear, imparting it with trans-seasonal qualities.
Yarn, viscose, nylon and, of course, the prerequisite wool were woven in deconstructionist silhouettes which added a 1990s flair to proceedings. The 1990s were when Martin Margiela introduced deconstruction as a method of exploring the parameters of design but when a commercial brand puts a spin on it, it’s about the surface: for the stylistic effect rather than any countercultural stance. It transpired that her featherlight fabrics enhanced the stylish deconstruction.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect to the collection was the conversation between the scenography used in the collection. Photographer-of-the-moment Harley Weir recently lensed the label’s advertising campaign in the Shetland Isles. Imagery from the campaign was digitally printed on sheer dresses, nylon jackets. It contrasted with the old world methodology of some knitted pieces, which rendered the same landscape in soft wools, its edges frayed. It partakes in the constant debate surrounding practice in the fashion industry, whether it’s more skilful to put a digital print on a dress, employing technology to innovate, or knit a scene, to highlight the importance of craft. In this critic’s opinion, craft is supreme: it adds a warmer, human, more authentic touch to the clothing. Authenticity is, after all, what brands strive for these days.
It also commented on the quality of being exposed to the elements, being at one with surroundings. It’s a concept that will come across as wildly pretentious and convoluted but the way Stringer employed softer, lighter, sheer textures and used prints implied as much. The success of the recent advertising campaign positions Pringle as a brand that, when road-tested, produces sublime results.
Pringle may not be a mind-blowing, industry-redefining brand. It doesn’t have to be. It exists to satisfy women who need reliable knitwear for work or pleasure. There are appreciable attempts at covering new ground with technical innovation which transports the brand into the cultural context in which it finds itself in. Stringer is responsible—not only for the commercial success of her clothing—for placing Pringle within the fashion conversation. Paying attention to her quiet contribution will be worth it for those scouring the overcrowded retail market for strong knitwear.
Photo Credit: voguerunway