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Scottish Design Icons: Pringle knitwear

Scottish Design Icons is a series of small articles showcasing the big hitters of Scottish design. This time we celebrate knitwear company Pringle of Scotland for their modern and pioneering approach to fashion.

The Scottish Borders has been the home of British knitwear production for 300 years, with the town of Hawick at the centre of Scotland's hosiery industry. The pioneering work of hosiers based there, combined with technological innovation, enabled the industry to adapt to customer demands over time. These advancements led Pringle of Scotland, one of the oldest luxury fashion brands in the world, to expand their production from underwear to knitted outerwear.

Founded by Robert Pringle in 1815, the company was originally a stocking manufacturer. It went on to develop specialised machinery to knit apparently seamless multi-coloured ‘intarsia’ patterns, as well as become internationally renowned for its twinsets, a favourite of glamourous actresses like Joan Crawford and Grace Kelly.

Ski ensemble, sweater by Pringle of Scotland with ski pants by Croydor of Switzerland, 1968. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Pringle introduced the 'intarsia' pattern that would become their signature argyle pattern. 'Intarsia', a knitting technique that allows blocks of different colours to appear to be inlaid in one another, was also used to great effect in the 1960s and 70s when the company collaborated with other manufacturers to create sportswear like the ski ensemble above.

See the pink ensemble for yourself in our Scottish Design Galleries.