Being more than 200 years old, Pringle of Scotland certainly knows a thing or two about standing the test of time. When it comes to addressing the issue of sustainability, it’s the knitwear brand’s major strength. “We build things that last; that’s really the key,” Fran Stringer, Pringle’s creative director, tells Vogue. “The longevity of our garments is super important to us.”
But Pringle is keen to bolster its eco-friendly practices further, as highlighted by the launch of two new capsule collections: Recycled, which uses 100 per cent recycled yarns, and Repurposed, comprising one-off pieces made from vintage and archival pieces. “It’s been a labour of love,” Stringer says. “We really wanted to do this and shine a light on the fact we should all be working really hard to use all of this waste the fashion industry creates.”
The brand’s wider sustainability push includes reducing its environmental impact within its own operations, as well as throughout its supply chain. An example of this is its close relationship with Scottish spinners Todd & Duncan, which uses 98 per cent natural dyes and is looking to improve traceability for its cashmere. “We’re making changes where we can and as quickly as we can,” Stringer adds.
Here, Pringle’s creative director explains in her own words how the knitwear brand is working towards a more sustainable future in fashion.
On how the repurposed and recycled collections came about:
“I became super aware that we have quite a wasteful design process. It might take several swatches to get the right knitting technique, and several prototypes to get the right fit. I didn’t want to throw these away so we came up with this idea of using all these scraps and offcuts to create a capsule collection.
“We’ve actually been trialling recycled yarns for the last couple of seasons. It’s been a slow process, but the spinners finally managed to come up with recycled yarns that are 100 per cent natural and much better quality than they were two or three years ago.”
On the importance of sustainability at Pringle:
“It’s hugely important to us. Pringle of Scotland has always supported mindful making and we’ve been doing a lot in the past two years to reduce our environmental impact. We’re at an advantage because we champion wool and it’s a naturally biodegradable material. We’re working very closely with our suppliers to make advances in the supply chain; we’re not perfect, but we’re doing what we can to improve.”
On driving change as a creative director:
“I can’t help but feel a heavy weight of responsibility to drive change in the industry. To be really honest, at some points I’ve felt such responsibility that I’ve wanted to walk away from a commercially driven industry. But of course if you do walk away then you can’t make any impact at all.”
On the steps the fashion industry needs to take:
“[The industry has] got the power to educate consumers; that’s hugely important. I think people wanting year-on-year growth on growth has to change; the environment just cannot sustain that level of growth. Every business has to take a look at itself and decide how they want to go forward.”
On how Pringle will be further addressing sustainability:
“We can make sure that every step – from the design process to office practice to couriers to travel – is under scrutiny. I hope in five years’ time we have no carbon footprint; that would be wonderful.”