The updated Pringle look has been in the works over past seasons, taking old classics and updating their appeal to suit a high-end clientele. The label has worked toward modernising design since being bought by Hong Kong-based S.C. Fang and Sons in 2000. With eyes on global expansion they’ve made effort to gain international appeal by recruiting seasoned designers like ex-Guccian, Clare Waight Keller and ex-Balenciagian, Alistair Carr. Neither were able to find stable footing with the brand and subsequently parted ways to find greener pastures at Chloé and McQ.
Since 2008 Massimo Nicosia has headed Pringle Menswear on two occasions, punctuated with a stint at Nicole Fahri. His designs follow a haute Milanese-Farhirian aesthetic defined by sheer knits, silky tailored jackets and tailored trousers.
The SS’14 collection turns to the label’s Scottish heritage for inspiration, drawing observations from the textile-patterns of Scottish tartan, kilting and intarsia. What came to fruition was a selection of beautiful knits, wovens with linear pattern, lightweight summer suiting separates and (my personal favourite) a beautiful white mesh bomber.
The collection offered a range of achromatic tones with subtle pops of cool colour. The use of taupe, navy, grey, black and white was punctuated with refreshing spritzes of pale yellow and blue. Shorts settled above the knee were modeled with long-sleeved knitwear, accommodating the fluctuating chicanery of British summer weather. While jackets in linen, textured cotton and seersucker provided the option of more breathable warmth. The presentation brought forth updated classic staples with woven quirk.
It is hard to imagine with such wearable pieces that Pringle has witnessed financial loss over the past few years (in 2010 a reported $10 million alone). Why such difficulty in striking a jolly jig? There must be a hole in the bagpipe. Perhaps management of the company has had higher financial expectations and is not allowing designers to take stride to gain a faithful following. Ah, the impatient vicissitudes of industry and creative practice! Swift business changes are not necessarily positive long-term moves and, more than often, poor media strategy.
The age-old struggle for immediate financial results fails to consider the time designers need to ‘settle’. While sales may suffer, rash leadership decisions set companies back to square one: re-building the brand. For what reasons are designers employed? Are they hired for their true creativity (and house fit), or their ability to create for the house’s existing market? As a re-launched label, Pringle is in a unique and experimental position to embrace its history and construct a new heritage model. Collections to this point have interpreted this challenge superbly yet still tend to work on individual pieces rather than the whole. Hopefully, the current design team is here to stay, taking the big picture into consideration.