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Cashmere Sweater Hierarchy

TheShetlandSweater

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How many Scottish knitwear manufacturers who specialize in cashmere are even left?

- William Lockie
- Johnston’s of Elgin
- Scott & Charters
- Barrie
- Esk
- Hawico/Hawick
- (does Begg make sweaters?)

Isn’t that the lot of them? All of these companies—Brooks, Drake, Colhays, whatever—are just using those same 5ish mills, no?
Begg owns Scott & Charters. Harley does cashmere, but they don't specialize. There are some smaller places too. I recently bought a cashmere accessory from a small place.
 

Panama

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How many Scottish knitwear manufacturers who specialize in cashmere are even left?

- William Lockie
- Johnston’s of Elgin
- Scott & Charters
- Barrie
- Esk
- Hawico/Hawick
- (does Begg make sweaters?)

Isn’t that the lot of them? All of these companies—Brooks, Drake, Colhays, whatever—are just using those same 5ish mills, no?
Robert Mackie do Cashmere blends and bespoke. And Glenevan for Cashmere Intarsia.

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dieworkwear

Mahatma Jawndi
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As more of a reader than commenter, I really appreciate your insights and opinions @dieworkwear, more than most in this thread and would feel a real loss if you stopped participating.
Feel bad now for being so sharp and terse. Don't mean to be rude. I think I've just run out of things to say on this subject. Personally think there's limited value in trying to find "the best." This desire springs out of our consumer anxiety when faced with limitless choices, as you're never quite sure if you're getting good value or if there's something better out there. You will not look more stylish if your sweater pills a little less or if your white t-shirt is a little softer. The most you can hope for is relief from this consumer anxiety of having to purchase yet another new thing. But you can relieve yourself of this anxiety by simply purchasing good things and not obsessing over owning "the best," which is an elusive and subjective concept anyway.

I think there are good cashmere producers out there, and they've all been named on this thread. I also think the reasons for pilling and stretching are known -- shorter fibers, slack knitting, and the modern cashmere trade, where animals produce a lower quality fleece as a result of overfarming and, possibly, global warming (according to some people I've interviewed, anyway). But the reasons for any specific sweater pilling or stretching are unknown, as we don't know how the garments were worn, washed, finished, treated, etc. Maybe some cone that year was bad, who knows. If someone purchased something second-hand, the sweater may have gone through another life.

I also think there's a limit to how much one can get from knowing who produced what. Mills don't just pump out the same garment. The fit, yarn, and knitting specs can be changed.

The only thing I really have to say on this subject is that Scottish producers are pretty good, and in my experience, they make sturdier sweaters than Italian brands. I've been told this is because they don't mill their sweaters as heavily (milling is a part of the finishing process that involves washing the garment in a drum). All sweaters have to be milled at some point because the yarns come with grease on them. The grease is to help the yarns glide more easily over the knitting needles. Once the sweater is knitted, it is then washed (or "milled") to clean the yarns, but Italian companies will mill the sweater a little more to make the garment feel softer. Sort of like the difference between raw denim and washed jeans. Some people like softer sweaters; some people like sturdier sweaters. I think it's a matter of taste.
 

Panama

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There are various articles about the negative issues with Cashmere industry. I personally love Camel hair and believe individuals should look at alternatives such as Luxury Merino (Pecora Nera, SaxXon, Escorial, Geelong, and Ultrafine) and Yak. I haven't yet tried Yak, but it is on my wish list. I have tried Alpaca and was disappointed. I am willing to give that another go along with Llama and Guanaco...
 

dieworkwear

Mahatma Jawndi
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There are various articles about the negative issues with Cashmere industry. I personally love Camel hair and believe individuals should look at alternatives such as Luxury Merino (Pecora Nera, SaxXon, Escorial, Geelong, and Ultrafine) and Yak. I haven't yet tried Yak, but it is on my wish list. I have tried Alpaca and was disappointed. I am willing to give that another go along with Llama and Guanaco...
There's also dog hair

 

Nobilis Animus

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The only problem with calling something 'best' is that it may hurt sensitive people's feelings about their own choices, or trigger excessive anxiety about your own choices.

Both of which sound like other people's problems to me.
 

dieworkwear

Mahatma Jawndi
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The only problem with calling something 'best' is that it may hurt sensitive people's feelings about their own choices, or trigger excessive anxiety about your own choices.

Both of which sound like other people's problems to me.
I don't think the concept of "best" has much meaning in terms of style and fashion. Style is about aesthetics, feeling, emotion, culture, identity, etc. This concept of "the best" is for collectors.

In a very normative sense, there are some things that are better made than others. But this pursuit of the "best" is a very collector-type mentality, as you're seeking the best in some class. Frankly, I've only seen it come up in this era of internet fashion. In the '90s, I only heard of people talking about fashion and style in terms of culture, aesthetics, emotion, identity, etc.

This is like people who are more interested in kitchen knives than cooking.

One of my favorite lines from Bruce Boyer, I think in his book Elegance, is that style is still an art and hasn't yet descended to the sciences.
 

Phileas Fogg

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There are various articles about the negative issues with Cashmere industry. I personally love Camel hair and believe individuals should look at alternatives such as Luxury Merino (Pecora Nera, SaxXon, Escorial, Geelong, and Ultrafine) and Yak. I haven't yet tried Yak, but it is on my wish list. I have tried Alpaca and was disappointed. I am willing to give that another go along with Llama and Guanaco...
I’ve felt alpaca and it has a nice hand but don’t own any so I can’t speak to its durability. Saxxon is a good alternative.

The quality of cashmere is all over the place and it has, unfortunately, garnered a reputation as being “delicate” no doubt due to the proliferation of shit cashmere sold at department stores. I can’t speak to the “best” or create a hierarchy though I certainly have my own preference. I know that trying to do cashmere on the cheap is as good as lighting your money on fire.
 

Panama

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I use to buy Alan Paine cashmere from their factory shop in Surrey. Then after years of not buying cashmere, I started buying inexpensive cashmere from M&S. I have just received a Falconeri turtle neck but that maybe my last as I move to alternatives. My last treat was an Alan Paine Camelhair sweater.
 

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