Pringle of Scotland is one of the oldest names in the Scottish borders, the birthplace of the British knitwear industry. Founded in 1815 by Robert Pringle, the company began as a manufacturer of hosiery and underwear. It has been knitting cashmere since the 1870s and was one of the first brands to introduce knitwear as outerwear in the early 1900s.
In March 2000, a new chapter began for the company when a brand vision and key strategies were put in place to take the business into the international luxury arena. Part of this regeneration process is the hiring of a new face, the very talented and fascinating Tilda Swinton. This year is the company’s 195’s birthday.
On the occasion of another anniversary, the Serpentine Gallery’s 40th anniversary, Pringle of Scotland is supporting the Institution by sponsoring the Gallery’s Education and public programmes. Tilda Swinton conceived and performed at the Serpentine Gallery in 1995 in an installation created by Cornelia Parker. She slept in a glass case in the gallery for eight hours each day, for seven days. She was more recently featured in the short ad movie made by Ryan McGinley for Pringle. For this show, more Scottish artists were selected by Julia Peyton-Jones, Director and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director of the Serpentine Gallery: Douglas Gordon, David Shrigley, Luke Fowler, Alasdair Gray and Franz Ferdinand amongst others.
Art is Alive catches up with Tilda Swinton at the press conference for Pringle’s relaunch.
Tell us about the collaboration and what Pringle of Scotland evokes?
I wanted to make the “twinset of my dream”. When I think of twinset, I think of Pringle in fact, and when I think of Pringle twinset I think of my grandmother. During all my growing up she wore Pringle. When she died, she left me a number of them and my favourite one is the operation for the twinset I made for Pringle. It’s this colour (bottle-green), that v-neck shape, this beautiful shirt collar. I asked them to basically copy it and design a cardigan to go underneath it. Then I customised it and made it couture. It occurred to me that no proper Scottish twinset can be without a few alterations and holes as a result of being worn by many generations, going through many hands, on different occasions in life. I can show you when we get closer, so around the wrist where it tends to get burnt or when the dog bites it or whatever, and around the elbow, by the neck I added a few detailed alterations. The second couture element is a contribution by my friend Waris Ahluwalia from the House of Waris who makes beautiful jewellery. He has made a beautiful brooch for it because we wanted it to feel like an old packet of jewels. He added the name of his brand House of Waris around the buttons.