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Scots fashion designer's deals with Borders mills

Kim Winser, the Helensburgh-born former chief executive of fashion brands Pringle, Aquascutum and Agent Provocateur, will use Scottish cashmere and merino knitwear from two mills in the Borders for special collections in her new online luxury womenswear label.

STYLE QUEEN: Scots-born Kim Winser is set to launch her website later this month, with supermodel Yasmin Le Bon, below, modelling the range. Picture: Steve Cox
STYLE QUEEN: Scots-born Kim Winser is set to launch her website later this month, with supermodel Yasmin Le Bon, below, modelling the range. Picture: Steve Cox

Winserlondon.com, which launches on February 15 to coincide with London Fashion Week, will be the first British single-brand online fashion store and there are plans to roll it out globally.

Ms Winser's head of knitwear is Borders-based Karen Baird who worked for her when she was CEO of Pringle.

Ms Winser's focus on Borders cashmere helped transform Pringle from a stuffy golfwear label to a global womenswear fashion brand in 2000, increasing sales from £10 million to £100m. She was awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to the fashion industry.

After winserlondon.com is launched a series of pop-up stores will appear in the spring, with Scotland top of the agenda, although the venue has not yet been disclosed.

Ms Winser is also working with knitwear, textile and design students at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, where she has had an honorary doctorate for 10 years, and their work will appear in collections later this year.

The debut collection modelled by Yasmin Le Bon features slouchy jumpers and wide-legged trousers, knitted jackets, wraps, dresses and shirts. New items will be added every month, with prices from £35 to £350.

Ms Winser started her career as a management trainee at Marks & Spencer and became its director of womenswear and the first female board member.

Asked if launching her label online meant she no longer believed the traditional high street had a future, she said: "There is no question the high street has some difficulties. There are a lot of retailers who have too much space and who are not geared up for the digital revolution. Companies have to embrace e-commerce. Simply tacking on a website to the main operation is not good enough.

"I don't think it's the end of the high street, but growth won't come through the high street; it will come through online business. I think the two are complementary."

She added: "People still want to touch and feel clothes in a shop environment. They still like a bit of retail and the way I want to do that is through pop-ups, because that keeps it fresh. It's a more flexible and responsive way to sell."

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