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Cashmere Sweater Hierarchy

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Taimur, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. curzon

    curzon Senior member

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    Gotta include Ballantyne near the top, if not the top, of this hierarchy.
     
  2. MikeDT

    MikeDT Senior member

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    Not suprising...their cashmere comes from Erdos.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  3. curzon

    curzon Senior member

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    Mr. Erdos the designer does Ballantyne too? Well golly! Prolific geezer.


    ;)
     
  4. MikeDT

    MikeDT Senior member

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    Are there any cashmere goats in Scotland? Enough for mass production of high quality sweaters, like Ballentyne, Hawick, etc.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  5. GoldenTribe

    GoldenTribe Senior member

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    There is a population of kashmir goats in Wales:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  6. MikeDT

    MikeDT Senior member

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    http://www.hawickcashmere.com/heritage.html
    Cashmere comes from the fine undercoat of the Hyrcus goat. These extraordinary animals are native to the mountainous regions of Asia and are now primarily found on the frigid plateaus of Mongolia and northern China.

    ...aparently Mr. Erdos is quite prolific.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  7. NORE

    NORE Senior member

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    How much wear are you guys getting out of your cashmere sweaters? I'm finding mine holding up for only two seasons max, then they start looking shoddy.
     
  8. msameth

    msameth Senior member

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    Unfortunately, you're about a decade late to the party. Ballantyne has taken quite a plunge since their acquisition in 2004 by di Montezemolo's PE group, Charme. It has become a "high-fashion life-style" brand with mediocre-quality offerings generally made in Italy and the Balkans. Four years after Charme took over Ballantyne, the original plant in Innerleithen, Caerlee Mill, was spun off from the label due to poor performance and managed as a separate partnership with Brooks Brothers and Zegna Baruffa (Zegna's yarn spinner) as principal investors. In 2010, JJ and HB 1788, as the new partnership was known, was placed into receivership and nearly everything was liquidated save the intarsia section, which was formed into a new company with Charme's backing called Caerlee Mills. Caerlee seems to continue to supply Ballantyne on a contractual basis; you can still see a few of the signature made-in-Scotland, hand-framed diamond intarsias in their most recent collections and apparently if you go to the concept shop in Notting Hill you even can order a self-designed, made-to-measure garment from Caerlee Mill. The rest is quite disappointing.

    I don't know who supplies yarn for the mainstay of Ballantyne's current production, but Todd & Duncan of Kinross was, and continues to be, the favored spinner for prestige Scottish cashmere knitters, such as John Laing, William Lockie, and Caerlee. T&D were acquired in 2009 by their principal supplier of dehaired cashmere fibers, the Ningxia Zhongyin Cashmere Co of Zhongyin, but production and management have remained at Kinross. Before the early 1990s Mongolian raw cashmere clippings, with dirt and guard hairs intact, were exported directly to Scottish processors such as T&D and Johnstons to be dehaired, scoured, and so on. Then the PRC began to exercise trade controls in order to increase the value of their exports and build a competitive domestic industry, so European spinners began to import semi-processed fibers. As the technology gap has narrowed between Chinese and European processors and spinners, many (mezzanine) European knitters today even use wholly Chinese-made yarn, albeit not without peril. In 2001 the US Consumer Protection Agency censured Clan Douglas for its cashmere sweaters made of Chinese yarn that turned out to contain 5% wool. A few European firms, in fact, have set up their own plants in Inner Mongolia to ensure tighter quality control (I think Loro Piana), but they are certainly in the minority.

    These are my Ballantynes, all between 35 and 45 years old:

    [​IMG]

    Even the oldest still look pristine, showing no pilling or stretching; I wash them once every few months, in a front-load machine on delicate cycle in cold water with a special shampoo, air-dried flat (no cultic/sacrificial rituals, just a bit of prudence). In my humble opinion, the quality of the old Ballantyne, Pringle, and Lyle & Scott was and remains unsurpassed. The Lockie and McGeorge I've had the opportunity to see are probably nearly there as well. I've also heard great things about Murray Allan and Laing. Pity that it's basically all been swept away.

    BTW, the current Creative Director of Ballantyne is Yossi Cohen.
     
    8 people like this.
  9. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    I can picture PTWilliams riding that, a steady hand on each horn.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  10. apack

    apack Senior member

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    I have cashmere sweaters from Murray Allan, Johnston's, Balmore, Ballantyne, Land's End, and Snow Lotus. Mixture of new and vintage. Murray Allan, Johnston's, Balmore, and Ballantyne are all excellent. I have seen John Laing and it is of similar quality. Snow Lotus, which is a Chinese maker, is surprisingly good -- almost as good as the Scottish makers. Land's End was decent ~10 years ago, though not as good as the others, and their quality has further gone downhill considerably since they were bought by Sears.

    The story msameth told regarding availability of top-quality cashmere yarn makes perfect sense. The production of top-quality cashmere garments in Scotland was a matter of historical development of fiber production and fabric mills. Increasing quality of production in China and their desire to produce more finished products for export should mean that they will produce more premium products in the future. I can attest that at least some of it is very good now.
     
  11. furo

    furo Senior member

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    How often do you wear the same one? I don't wear mine too often so this would be difficult to accurately compare... I wear maybe one per week in the winter, and I rotate about five or six of them.

    I primarily buy the BB Made in Scotland V necks, which have held up surprisingly well for a sweater that can easily be found for under $200 on sale. I also have some RLPL cashmere sweaters (made in Italy) that are pilling quite a bit faster than the made in scotland BB ones
     
  12. Melvin Udall

    Melvin Udall Well-Known Member

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    How does Howard Yount stand up agaist those brands?
     
  13. harryx2

    harryx2 Senior member

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    What do you think of Malo?
     
  14. harryx2

    harryx2 Senior member

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    Surprisingly, the softest cashmere sweater that I had so far is from Valentino's main line. It is amazing.
     
  15. apack

    apack Senior member

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    Re: Chinese makers
    Yes, apparently just a few Chinese makers currently produce for most of the major designer labels.

    Personally I have always wondered about cashmere fabrics made in Italy. There is obviously no local production of the fiber, and no historical association as in Scotland. I suppose that this is just a matter of major cloth-makers utilizing a variety of raw materials. Certainly this makes sense when it is material that Italian mills are well known for, such as suiting fabrics. I am always a bit skeptical about Italian-made cashmere sweaters though.
     
  16. NORE

    NORE Senior member

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    I have three or four that get worn maybe once a week each during the cooler months. All cableknits if that matters.
     
  17. ThinkDerm

    ThinkDerm Senior member

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    This is quite informative!
     
  18. apack

    apack Senior member

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    Sierra Trading Post currently has excellent prices on Johnston's of Elgin cashmere sweaters -- $120 for a sweater-vest, and $120 - $165 for regular pull-over sweaters (depending on cut and color) with their dealflyer coupons.

    If any of you want to do that, you can signup in a way that will give them some credit to me by clicking through here. This will give you a $10 coupon as well. Then sign up for their dealflyer email, and follow the link through that to get the discount pricing. It works very well, with the only minor annoyance that STP sends their discount emails ~twice/week.
     
  19. House

    House Well-Known Member

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    Real Pringles are expensive.The term cashmere today is used too freely. The definition of cashmere is the undercoat of the Kasmir goat from areas like Inner Mongolia (part of China today) and from the neck area of the animal so it may take a number of goats to make just 1 cashmere sweater. Today anything is called cashmere and may just be the undercoat of any goat from anywhere from its entire body. In many places they would just call something like this the underdown and not cashmere but I guess the labeling laws are rather lax now. It would be better to get a very high quality worsted lambswool rather then a cheap "cashmere". Cashmere is one of those things that if it's not the top it's not worthy of the name. Cognac is the same where unless it's at least a VSOP the cheaper stuff is not even as good as some top brandy from another area at the same price.
     
  20. House

    House Well-Known Member

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    Erm, there are no Kasmir goats in the milder Scotland either or is there sea isle cotton from England. The raw materials come from elsewhere and it's a craft turning them into something suberb.China should make the best cashmere because that's where the goats are located but they don't (not yet anyway) and the same with silk, but Italy makes the best and and has the silkworms right there too.
     

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