Contributor: Courtney Byrne (Richmond Studio Consultant)
“Unbalance as to Rebalance,” Pringle of Scotland goes back 195 years.
It seems as though fate has played a hand in me contributing this blog entry (and yes, it’s a long one, but I promise it will be an intriguing read!). I had one of those blinding thoughts telling me to “check out what Pringle of Scotland has in store for this fall season.” I would most likely attribute it to a mental escape spurred on from this oppressive heat. Daydreams of the arrival of fall weather and me somewhere in the North England hills walking in Wellies, wrapped in tartan wool and cashmere. Stopping off at the local pub to warm up with a freshly poured Guinness (or two)…but I digress.
So the fate part. Whilst flipping through this month’s Wallpaper today, lo and behold I came across a somewhat pithy snippet on Pringle of Scotland and how they are using less conventional steps to reinvigorate their brand. Spearheaded by their Collections Creative Director, Clare Waight Keller, Pringle is going back 195 years to when it was first created by bolstering their identity to the company’s founding ideals and vision.
While many Anglophiles may not know the Pringle brand, rest assured their contribution to our daily fashion lives is significant – in fact, you most likely own something inspired by the brand. Robert Pringle founded the company in Scotland in 1815 producing knit hosiery. In 1905 they introduced the men’s cardigan, in the 20s it was the infamous Argyle pattern, the 30s brought the women’s twin set (Banana, Jcrew, anyone?), and in the 50s they brought a cashmere “bar” to the Harvey Nichols Department Store. If you’re ever in London, Manchester or Edinburgh (among many others), Harvey Nichs is a must stop just to take in the decadence of the store, service and refresh with a cocktail in their highly designed café! Historically, the Pringle brand conjures visions of knitwear that the Queen herself would wear; sporty St. Andrews golfers in the 40s and 50s; and elegant twinsets that Grace Kelly would don with a fine pearl choker.
In 2000 Pringle refocused their brand by “restoring the luxury fashion heritage of Pringle’s rich past and continue the tradition of innovation, authenticity and glamour.” Wallpaper’s article focused on their newest endeavor by collaborating with the Serpentine Gallery in London. They called on artists to create a line of Argyle and twin sets that will show at the gallery and be available for purchase in a limited run. In celebration of their 195 anniversary, the show is aptly called “195 Collaborations” and represents the Scottish tradition of knitwear as well as creating products that are personal and individual.
Not relying on flashy ad campaigns to appeal to the masses, Pringle has moved to elevate their brand by positioning it to a smaller demographic that respond to authenticity of a craft and appreciate the idea of finite artisanship. This really resonated with me given what we are doing every day at Charles Luck. Elevating our brand and ourselves by providing our clientele with a personalized experience helmed from product knowledge and a uniqueness and quality of materials that is unmatched. It is this common thread I found between Pringle and Charles Luck, though we are a tad younger by a mere 100 years, there is a sense of returning to a time where craftsmanship, quality and service were paramount yet commonplace.
Pringle’s summer 2010 ad campaign features ingénue Tilda Swinton as the main character in their story line of rediscovering a somewhat lost heritage. A seven minute video features Tilda encountering the earthly elements that make up Scottish countryside. Coming upon a small farmhouse ruin (note the beautiful craftsmanship in the stone walls!) she explores, digs, climbs and rediscovers heritage’s past. Whispering to the camera “unbalance so as to rebalance” she fades to the ocean tide completing her journey. Perhaps a bit much with my description, but you are able to understand the ad’s intent that Pringle is focused on their return to their Scottish heritage, luxury and authenticity to which it was born.
As far as fate is concerned, I think its role was to allow me take a closer look at Pringle and how a brand I respect and regard as a creative force is achieving this return to heritage, old world luxury and personalized experience. That, and fingers crossed, there is a jumper in my future!
If you have a moment check out their website, their brand video is brilliant!