Just recently got the following question: “Hey Atte, it’s getting really cold here and so far I only have sweaters from sns herning. can you recommend some other knitwear brands? Thank you!”
As the question does not really specify what kind of knitwear (or with what kind of a budget) are you looking for to purchase next, here’s few thoughts and ideas about knitwear with a bit more larger perspective.
Style icon Steve McQueen shows how to wear a simple and casual cable knit sweater.
Lamb, merino or cashmere?
In general if you’re on somewhat limited budget, the best option is to aim for sweaters made out of lambswool, shetland, or in some cases merino wools. The first two are more on the “rough” side (best when worn in casual combination with denim, corduroy or moleskin) whereas most of the merino sweaters are a bit more smooth and suitable to wear for example as layers under a sport coat. In terms of “beater” knitwear I personally give a recommendation to Uniqlo, of which lambswool (this year mixture) and merino sweaters comes with a great price-quality ratio. Another option, with a bit higher (but still decent) price point is Norwegian Berg&Berg.
In case money is not a problem and you’re looking something with higher budget, keep an eye on cashmere. The problem with cashmere however is that if it’s cheap, it’s rather often poorly made. As the cloth itself is expensive, if the sweater comes with a low price tag, it often means some shortcuts has been made in terms of the construction. So as the rule goes “buy less, buy better”, if you can’t afford “good quality cashmere” it’s better to stick with lambswool or merino.
What about quality?
Determining the true quality of a sweater without actually owning and using it for a while is not that easy, as nothing can really substitute for the actual experience. There are a few things, however, that you can do to make an educated guess. The first one of course is - stay with well-known brands and taking that a bit further - stay with brands that are known for their knitwear. But in general if you’re in the shop try and feel the the fabric between your fingers. With cashmere, if a light, oily residue has been left on your hands when rubbing, it usually means that the fabric has been treated with a kind of emulsion and is likely lower in terms of quality. With lambs- and merino wool check overall if the sweater has been knitted densely and finally try to take a look of the collars and cuffs and see whether they seem likely to stretch or keep their shape in the long run.
Luxurious, “grail status” shawl collar cardigan made of four-ply ribbed cashmere by Drake’s London. Also an example of wearing knit over knit.
One of the best and finest makers of quality knitwear, especially in terms of more hefty and chunky pieces Gran Sasso @Pitti Uomo.
Zip-sweater is a good option when looking for an extra layer to wear for example underneath your outerwear. This one by Della Ciana.
McRitchie lambswool cardigans @Pitti Uomo last January.
This one here is maybe one of the most perfect implementation of chunky roll neck cardigan. Made by Drumohr. If you’re looking a roll neck to be worn under a sport coat or with a suit opt for more thin and compatible merino (or cashmere) wool options.
Iconic “shaggy dog” shetland crew-neck sweater by J Press. Another option worth checking out in this category is O’Connels. The name of Shetland sweaters originates from the Shetland Islands, located halfway to Norway off the north coast of Scotland. To put it short, due to the region’s harsh conditions the wool fibre used in shetland sweaters is in a way unique and “sturdy” when compared to “normal lambs wool”. Sweaters made of this fabric are very warm and airy but like most wools raw Shetland can be fairly itchy and for this reason many of sweaters comes as “brushed” versions.
A Fair Isle sweater is a type of knitwear garment that uses a distinctive geometric motif originating from the remote Fair Isle island. Here a fairly restrained option - Howlin’ By Morrison
Brands to check out
In addition to the names already mentioned above - here are some other manufacturers / brands to check out in case looking for new knitwear.
Inis Meain Inverallan Albam SNS Herning Nigel Cabourn
John Smedley Zanone (Slowear) Fedeli Loro Piana