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Scottish Cashmere Sweaters - Page 3

post #31 of 64
i purchased a Ballantyne recently and to my surprise, it was made in Italy! it was a lightweight cashmere v-neck...
Quote:
Originally Posted by ed1234 View Post
My favourite cashmere comes from TSE, a Chinese firm. I know people are usually dismissive of Chinese clothing but in my experience their stuff is better than the two Loro Pianas and various other high-end cashmere jumpers I've had over the years. The fibers come from NW China and are spun locally.
i recently posted some RLPL cashmere cableknits on B&S and got those same dismissive comments. i understand where they are coming from - presumably part of the reason one pays these prices is to have an 'Old World artisan' produce their clothing rather than 'Third World labor' - but i feel that you really have to judge each piece on its own merits because i really feel these sweaters are quite fantastic, made in China or no. but i wont take this thread further off topic since this is a discussion about Scottish cashmere. i have been looking to try Scottish cashmere for some time now, but haven't been able (in Florida ) to find suitable examples. mostly i see the rare Ballantyne, a TON of McGeorge at the outlets (apparently they are a division of Ballantyne now), and very little else. perhaps i dont know where to look. incidentally Alan Paine makes a lot of stuff for Saks now, and most are made in Madagascar.
post #32 of 64
I have several vintage cashmere sweaters and vests from Scotland, not sure of the maker as they're store branded with "Made in Scotland' as the only indicator of the origin. But they're amazingly soft and are devoid of pills.

I also have a vintage Pringles cardigan that is fantastic. No pills at all and very well made.

My RLPL cashmere has been hit and miss. Some are great and others covered with pills. Though all are soft.

Again, my Loro Piana is hit or miss, too. I have a scarf that has piling and a sweater that looks great.

Does anyone else use shampoo to wash theirs? It's hair you're washing. Oh, an no fabric softener!
post #33 of 64
I am resuscitating an old thread...

I went to a shop yesterday that was selling on heavy discount some traditional cashmere sweaters with retail between 500 - 1000 USD. I bought a burned orange Ballantyne (new, but probably made 3 or 4 years ago) V-neck cashmere for about 150 USD.

There were lots of Ballantyne, John Laing and a few Fedeli. I was familiar with Ballantyne (now Italian owned) and Fedeli, but never heard of John Laing. I liked a very thick, dark green cashmere cardigan (retail about 1000 USD, reduced to 200 USD), but did not know anything about the company. Is the company still existing, is the quality good? How is it compared to Ballantyne?
post #34 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by KObalto View Post
I have a Scottish cashmere V-neck from Bullock and Jones I got on deep discount at FB. I'm not sure who makes them, but they have quite a few on their website.
http://www.bullockandjones.com/cat.cfm/cid/23/

Many years ago, Clan Douglas made cashmere sweaters for Bullock and Jones, as well as Neiman Marcus' private label.

As I have not seen any Clan Douglas sweaters in the last 4 years or so, they may have gone out of business -- which is a shame because their sweaters are very well made and reasonably priced.

Brunello Cucinellis are stylish and tasteful but over-priced. So I brought them only at steep discount. Likewise for Loro Piana.

I recently brought a McAlan Scottish cashmere cable knit. The label says limited edition -- don't know what that signifies. But it is very thick and sturdy. Can't comment on the quality as I haven't wore it yet due to our Indian Summer.

My experience with Chinese cashmere (Saks private label) thus far has been disappointing. Pills and stretches out of shape easily. Fortunately, I only have 2 of those.

The French made cashmere sweaters I have are quite satisfactory. I also brought one made in Australia (Raffi) recently. Seems well-made and has a nice hand.
post #35 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leather man View Post
This is wonderful thread!

I am no expert in Cashmere but I'd like to share my observations. My first cashmere sweaters were from Orvis and Landsend. Nice enough but not great quality, pilled very quickly and whilst I don't wear them a lot they are showing signs of heavy wear.

Then I began to buy Scottish cashmere and the difference is amazing. I buy all my Scottish cashmere from Robert Old in the UK, who have a great website and give wonderful advice. Their ranges are large both in terms of offering different styles, weights and colours. They also have a section of sale items.

I have also bought what I think are three good quality cashmere , made in China , products from Pakeman , Catto and Carter. They are much better than Charles Tyrwhitt cashmere, from whom I have three Cashmere sweaters. P.C&C cashmere sweaters do seem genuinely good quality. However they are not a patch on the admittedly more expensive Scottish product.

I think that if you want a Cashmere sweater that will look good for years and last you for half a life time you need to invest in a Scottish made product. I cannot comment on Italian cashmere as I have never owned any, but the insentive to do so isn't there for me, the Scots have won my heart!!

This is a very interesting post. Pakeman claims on their web-site that their £135 cashmere jumpers are made from 'Scottish cashmere'. Their older £75 cashmere jumpers make no such claim, could it be that the former are made in Scotland and the latter China?
post #36 of 64
I've had a long and bumpy road with cashmere. Tried lots of different sweaters, and John Laing are by far the best sweaters I've worn. A review of each below: 1. Polo RL cashmere cableknit. Made in China. I have one from 2001-ish and it is pretty good, with some heft. Has not pilled that badly. Not great, but whatever. The two I have from the 2003-2005 timeframe are AWFUL. Thin and pill horribly. Would never buy again, at any price. These also stretch out badly at the neck and hem. 2. Brooks Brothers old stock. I have a few old (1980s) BB cashmere vests made in Scotland. The cashmere is incredible -- heavier and denser than anything I've seen from Loro Piana or Cucinelli. I wish these were still made like this. 3. Brooks Brothers from 2000. I have a made in Scotland BB cashmere sweater from the 2000 era. I like it---it has pilled a bit, but not unbelievably so. I think these are a great value when they go on sale for ~$200 or less. I would like a saddle shoulder, but can do without. I would also prefer the long must-fold-over cuffs, but these don't have those. Kudos to BB for still sourcing from Scotland for these. Anyone know who makes BB's current offering of cashmere sweaters? 4. Johnston's of Elgin from STP. I have 3 JoE crewnecks from STP, purchased over the last 2 years, all for under $200. These are a very very good value. Real Scottish cashmere, sweaters made in Scotland. Saddle shoulder. Although these are 2-ply, they feel slightly thin relative to my John Laings, and they do pill a little bit. My biggest complaint is that the necks of these stretch out quite a bit. I don't know why -- just not enough tension woven into the neck. Other thing is that the cuffs, like on the BB, are not fold-over. That said, it seems insane to spend over $400 on a solid v-neck or crewneck cashmere sweater from a place like Paul Stuart, Neiman's, BG, whatever, and certainly weird to spend in excess of $800 on LP or Cucinelli when these can be had for $180 from STP (given the right discount codes). These are the real deal and they're great. 5. John Laing I have two crewnecks w/ saddle shoulder from Best of Scotland on Newbury St. in Boston. I think the store either moved or closed about a year ago (sadly), but I think they also had a store in the Hamptons...not that that's too convenient for anyone in the winter. This was a delightful store on the second story of a brownstone. These sweaters are more expensive than others (I think I paid $280 when they were on sale...I think the full price was between $350 and 400). I love JoE sweaters, but these are a whole level above. The fashioning is the same, except that these do have the must-fold-over sleeve cuffs, which I like. But the cashmere on these is very thick (even though it is 2-ply just like the JoE and new BB) and just hasn't pilled. It is as soft as any cashmere but has the "hand" of merino almost--meaning it just seems more tightly knit so as to be more durable and longer lasting. The neck also has a good amount of tension in it such that it hasn't really stretched out at all. I don't know where else I can find Laing sweaters now. If someone knows, please tell me. Finally, has anyone been to the Best of Scotland in NYC on 5th Ave at 48th?. It is unrelated to the Best of Scotland in Boston. Who makes their sweaters and how do they stack up?
post #37 of 64
I like the BB for value; every now and then you can find a decent made in Scotland (some are china) for eighty dollars or so. Great value. The quality is very good for the money as well. I have a Purdey csshmere turtleneck that is awesome quality. I wear it once or twice weekly each winte, and havedone so for four years or so. Piling is minimal; Brooks would be falling apart. Too bad I haven't seen another one of these.
post #38 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyCrockett View Post
5. John Laing I have two crewnecks w/ saddle shoulder from Best of Scotland on Newbury St. in Boston. I think the store either moved or closed about a year ago (sadly), but I think they also had a store in the Hamptons...not that that's too convenient for anyone in the winter. This was a delightful store on the second story of a brownstone. These sweaters are more expensive than others (I think I paid $280 when they were on sale...I think the full price was between $350 and 400). I love JoE sweaters, but these are a whole level above. The fashioning is the same, except that these do have the must-fold-over sleeve cuffs, which I like. But the cashmere on these is very thick (even though it is 2-ply just like the JoE and new BB) and just hasn't pilled. It is as soft as any cashmere but has the "hand" of merino almost--meaning it just seems more tightly knit so as to be more durable and longer lasting. The neck also has a good amount of tension in it such that it hasn't really stretched out at all. I don't know where else I can find Laing sweaters now. If someone knows, please tell me.


Laing kept going in and out of bankruptcy. However, they were being carried by Ben Silver -- I'd check their website -- and as of a few years ago, Maus & Hoffman. Additionally, a few Scottish cashmere houses sell direct -- check if Laing has a working website and if it offers that service.

I echo what you say about Laing versus Johnstons.

I fear that in the end there will be no more of the tightly woven,soft but substantial cashmere, that was typical of the best Scottish cashmere houses. The best cashmere qualities are too expensive to survive on selling alone; the focus is on Italian cashmere that typically feels softer and mushier from the get-go, and on expanding into a luxury brand like Piana or Cucinelli -- or the new Ballantyne -- without retaining focus on quality basic product.
post #39 of 64
I still have five cable-knit Alan Paine cashmere crewnecks that I bought in the late 1980s when the Paine family still owned the company and produced things to their accumstomed standards. The Paines sold the first cable stitch patterns back in the early 20th century. The family sold off the company in the early 1990s, I think.

The cashmere is thick and meaty, dense. Even after all this time, the knits are as resilient and pill-free as when I got them.

I haven't seen any seen cashmere sweaters of more recent vintage that seem to be as good. Quite a few are rather terrible.


- B
post #40 of 64
what a great courteous, civil, subject matter oriented thread on an excellent subject, especially at this time of year. i am now inspired and will, i hope, pull out my vintage cashmere tonight after work. the reason to purchase cashmere, to my mind, is because it is soft and extremely comfotable next to the skin, compared to, say, merino wool. i am of an age where i still see cashmere as a luxury fabric, if fabric is the right word. i agree with the posts that identify vintage brooks bros as the softest and possibly the best quality. the sweater i will pull out tonight was purchased at brooks bros in the late '70s or early '80s and believe it or not in like new condition today, right now. my assessment could be nostalgia related , i admit that. however, i have had occasion to purchase cashmere every year for the last ten years for my wife since we live in the upper midwest and if nothing else cashmere, even thinner cashmere, is warm. the only real super high level quality cashmere we have purchased was on sale at paul stuart, chicago which is still an excellent source, howevever i have not been there this year, i usually shop the after xmas sale. we also purchased super high quality cucinelli cashmere from ultimo, chicago, when they sold men's clothing, the purchase of a super, at least four ply pull over, by cucinelli about 7 to 10 years ago before they started to spend big bucks on promotion to my mind over promotion(spend $ on maintaining the quality of the product, not an add campaign is how you keep my business). anyway, it seems that cashmere has lost a tad of its cache since it is now much more affordable which apparently is due to the fact that the wholesale vendors of the raw product will now sell directly to vendors and/or makers and not through a middle man and there are more wholesale vendors. i look forward to more comments on this thread.
post #41 of 64
The Scottish cashmere knitwear business has been tumultuous this decade. Several major players no longer exist and the membership rosters of two significant associations change like musical chairs. Oriental firms own Pringle and the major Scottish cashmere processor Todd & Duncan.

For about a year Brooks Brothers has owned 1/4 of what was the recent incarnation of Ballantyne. It's now named J.J. & H.B. 1778. Though a consortium, it's Innerleithen, Scotland facility is 100% Italian owned.

Should you be able to tear yourself away from WhatIsJamesWearing elswhere

The remaining major firms in Scottish cashmere. Click "Members" (John Laing is bye, bye)
www.scottishcashmereclub.com (after clicking the arrow upper right of the picture, continuously click just to the side of the center picture)

The major cashmere & camel hair processors
www.cashmere.org
post #42 of 64
Brora.

I have found my go-to sweater/jumper from this brand hearty enough to constantly be stuffed in and out of my attache case during flights, crammed into tight suitcases, and all the things that would normally misshape or wear more-delicate fibers. Never stretches. Pretty dense.

My wife, a huge cashmere connoisseur, esp. luxe-brands, approves.
post #43 of 64
The few real Scottish cashmere makers whose stuff I've seen in person to be good quality and dense are Hawick, Lockie, Laing... Alex Begg scarves are incredible, but they don't make sweaters.

The Johnstons stuff I've seen in the last few years feels a lot looser in the knit.
Someone intimated that Pringle (regardless of its ownership) is now just a brand whose cashmere is made by Johnstons. That would be too bad since I had a Pringle scarf which was fantastic. I hope whoever found it in Paris enjoyed it.

Ballantyne is a brand owned by the Italians (Charme, an investment fund with Luca di Montezemolo as a partner). They were still putting out some good quality stuff -- the stuff they made for Berk is good -- but prices are strateospheric. Perhaps they ever were: I remember in the early 1990s looking at Ballantyne real 2-ply cashmere turtlenecks at the Scottish shop in San Fran and being shocked to see them at $700. That was back when cashmere was still a luxury product. FWIW, those turtlenecks are worth the price. The Italians have moved most Ballantyne knitwear production to Italy, even some cashmere. The manufacturing part of Ballantyne was spun off as that HJ JB entity with Brooks Bros as an investor -- a smart move since the manufacturing is the side most likely to go under in the long run. If Brooks has left it, that's news to me.

In the end, it doesn't matter what nationality the owners are, what matters is what happens to the product.

British manufacturing is going to the wall. In cashmere, the Italians win since it appears they can manufacture more cheaply and because they have successfully established "made in Italy" as a sign of luxury, quality and design. The Chinese will ultimately win because they can churn out the stuff far more cheaply. No one will remember what cashmere used to be like. The current fibre product -- because demand is so high -- isn't usually of the same quality and is sometimes adulterated with other materials to make it seem softer.

Get it now, because it is going away.
post #44 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by RJman View Post
The few real Scottish cashmere makers whose stuff I've seen in person to be good quality and dense are Hawick, Lockie, Laing... Alex Begg scarves are incredible, but they don't make sweaters.
In scarves (woven Cashmeres), the Begg's are a softer and fluffier product than the Colombo cashmere and what I have seen from Loro Piana. These (the Italian Makers) tend t be a little more dense and creamy. In knitwear (sweaters and vests etc) the Scottish seems to have a relatively harder hand than the Italian stuff I sell.
post #45 of 64
I have a Ballantyne sport coat. Any thoughts about it? Were/are Ballantyne known for tailored goods?
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