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Many would argue that reinvention is necessary for relevance. Here's how three established brands have updated their look.
Pringle of Scotland
Celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, Pringle of Scotland is one of the world’s oldest brands; its recent runway offerings, however, are the product of a thoroughly modern design ethos. With a humble beginning in undergarments, Pringle of Scotland began producing cashmere in 1870 and soon became known for its remarkable knits – the most famous being the medieval Scottish Argyle pattern it popularized in the 1920s. In the 1950s, the label became a sensation when Grace Kelly started sporting its ingenious twinset, a choice uniform for the era’s preppy populace. Classic knitwear is still Pringle’s bread and butter, but designer Massimo Nicosia (who became the brand’s head of design in 2013) strives to push innovation in knits, employing 3-D printing techniques to shake up the label’s designs. This season saw a creation of nylon-powder chainmail fabric mixed with cotton and silk, and rendered into delicate pullovers for women and cable-knit cricket sweaters for men.
Shoe company Clarks Originals got its start in 1825 under the name C&J Clark Limited, but it wasn’t until the brand’s Desert boot made its 1950 debut that it became a household name. Based on an unlined suede style produced in the bazaars of Cairo, the boot gained rock ‘n’ roll cred when it became the shoe of choice for British mods. Clarks continues to hold the hipster world’s attention by issuing special editions of the iconic crepe-soled boot (with previous collaborations with fellow Brit brands Liberty of London and Eley Kishimoto), and by adding sneaker-like styles and flatforms to its repertoire. This season, the Desert boot got the Canadian treatment, courtesy of Vancouver-based accessories brand Herschel Supply Co., for a capsule collection to mark its 65th anniversary.
The interest in Barbour has been building for over a decade, particularly among streetwear enthusiasts and on style blogs such as Hypebeast and High Snobiety. Founded in 1894 as an importer of oilcloth, this heritage brand engineered its own famous waterproof waxed canvas, and the brand’s outerwear became the uniform of choice for British aristocrats on hunting jaunts. Actor Steve McQueen, an avid motorcyclist, popularized the brand in 1960s America. It’s been a smooth ride since, especially after the 1982 launch of the iconic Beaufort coat. With its classics firmly established, the brand now keeps its loyal fans on their toes with special collaborations with buzzy labels (J.Crew, Paul Smith, Adidas Originals). This season, Japanese cult brand White Mountaineering took on Barbour’s classic silhouettes with a camouflage-like wave print and strategic detailing such as additional pockets and piping for extra reinforcement.