BEIJING — Playing up innovative fashion designs alongside its long history and reputation for craftsmanship, Pringle of Scotland is opening its first store in China next month with plans to roll out as many as 20 more shops in the next few years.
At a prelaunch collection viewing here, Pringle’s creative director Massimo Nicosia discussed how his designs would appeal to the fashion sense of Chinese luxury consumers.
“Chinese invented luxury 1,000 years ago and brought luxury to the West — I’m talking about silk and other commodities that at that time were not known in the West,” Nicosia said while moving between displays of pieces from his fall 2014 collection at the China Club in central Beijing.
“The recent history and what China is now is about moving fast and moving forward,” he continued. “Belonging to the past, but really embracing the future. This is really the point, for myself as a designer and for Pringle as a brand.”
The company, which is owned by the Hong Kong-based Fang family, celebrates its 200th anniversary next year. But Nicosia’s knitwear designs are fully forward-looking, intermingling elements made with 3-D printing and muted sequins. This collection relies heavily on shaping and textures to bring a forward spin to traditional knitwear pieces like polo shirts and knit pencil skirts.
Pringle’s first China store opens in the western city of Chengdu, to be followed in September with a store in Shanghai and later a third in Beijing. Wilfred Koo, Pringle president for Greater China, said Chengdu was a natural fit because of its recent boom in prime retail space and extensive consumer market.
“Chengdu is a hot, hot market, and now they have all these new shopping malls,” said Koo.
He believes Pringle’s positioning will prove attractive to Chinese customers who are seeking discreet luxury, well-made items and forward-looking designs.
“Chinese consumers are very quick to accept new things, innovation,” said Koo. “We are a 200-year-old brand, but making cutting-edge fashion.
“I think that’s really going to differentiate our products in China,” he added.
Koo is optimistic about Pringle’s rollout in China for several reasons. He said more than half of the shoppers at the brand’s retail stores in Hong Kong are Chinese from the Mainland and already asking where to buy Pringle clothes in China.
“We see China as an exciting long-term opportunity, and the store is our first step into a market that has huge growth potential,” said Koo. “Chinese customers value excellence and quality, so we believe there a demand for Pringle of Scotland.”
The brand will expand to 15 to 20 stores across China, starting in key markets and cities, within three to five years, he said. Much will depend on what happens in Chengdu, Shanghai and Beijing.
“We really need to see performance in the next six months, then we’ll know how much to step on the pedal,” said Koo.