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LONDON — More changes are afoot at Pringle of Scotland, where Clare Waight Keller, the brand’s creative director since 2005, has resigned her post. An announcement is expected today.
This story first appeared in the March 11, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“It’s a sad moment — but the perfect time to close my era at Pringle. I leave incredibly proud of Pringle’s growth from a Scottish knitwear company to an international luxury brand,” said Waight Keller, who showed her final collection during London Fashion Week last month.
“And to a certain extent, this move is for personal reasons,” added the designer, who is expecting her third child in May.
Douglas Fang, a member of the family that owns Pringle, said his family was “absolutely committed” to Pringle, and was eager to continue building the brand. “It’s been a great journey with Clare, a great five-and a-half years,” he told WWD, adding that a search was on for her successor.
The Fang family business, S.C. Fang & Sons Co. Ltd., acquired Pringle from Dawson International plc in 2000.
Waight Keller’s resignation comes on the heels of a management shake-up last month. Mary-Adair Macaire stepped down from her post as chief executive officer after a little more than two years. She was replaced by Jean Fang, also a member of the owning family.
“Clare’s unique understanding of knitwear and design talent allowed her to modernize the image of Pringle, while remaining true to its heritage. Clare will be greatly missed,” said Douglas Fang.
During her 11 seasons at Pringle, Waight Keller, a knitwear expert, helped to update the brand’s image while keeping knitwear at its core. She also worked closely on the company’s recent collaborations with artists such as David Shrigley and Richard Wright, and actress Tilda Swinton.
Waight Keller oversaw the women’s and men’s collections as well as all aspects of the brand image including shop design, packaging, and advertising.
Before joining Pringle, Waight Keller was a senior women’s wear designer at Gucci, working under Tom Ford. Before Gucci she was design director for Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label men’s line. Her first job was as a women’s wear designer for Calvin Klein.
Pringle intends to move forward on a more commercial tack, with plans to reintroduce a golf line. The brand has also hired Sophia Neophitou, the editor of 10 Magazine, to design a capsule collection of packable cashmere knits that will be sold at duty free stores exclusively. That collection will go on sale in September.
The focus will be on opening smaller stores — 1,100 square feet on average — in resorts such as Monte Carlo, Monaco, Gstaad, Switzerland, and Aspen, Colo. Those stores will sell mostly cashmere knitwear.
In other Pringle news, Swinton has been confirmed as the face of the brand’s fall campaign, to be shot by the Swiss photographer Walter Pfeiffer. The campaign will be shot at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland.