It was a menswear trend that was bubbling nicely, and now it seems guys have totally embraced the chunky knit. Aran-type swirls of chunky plaits or handknitted, retro, the-type-your-nan-would-make-type sweaters are everywhere at the moment. This is one of the best of the season from the Barbour collaboration with Partick Grant’s Norton & Sons label. It has an Art Deco-like sunburst at the top and a smaller weave where you don’t the want extra bulk around the belly and hips. Wear with slim, tapered jeans and a field jacket.
Left - Barbour X Norton & Sons – Bern Crew Dark Moss Jumper - £199
ESK is a collective of Scottish creatives making some of the most beautiful and detailed knitwear. ESK make everything in Scotland under the same roof and source their yarns with care, trying to use the small, but rich seam of spinners left in this country. They only use natural fibres and the design inspiration is gathered by looking at the natural world that surrounds them whether this be the Scottish landscape or in contrast the urban cityscape.
Left - ESK X Monocle Cardigan - £240
Managing Director, Stuart Maxwell, has been working with yarn and making knitwear for over 20 years. "Running our family-owned small knitwear factory has had its share of ups and downs over the years, but being deeply involved with textiles and working with great people really is as good as it gets and is my constant source of inspiration." he says.
Creative Director, Lorraine Acornley, has been designing for the last 16 years for the likes of Alberta Ferretti, Joseph, Pringle of Scotland and Albam. "We want to make the best knitwear without any compromise. It's great to be working with people who are the best in their field and in turn all striving to produce our best work." she says.
ESK have just collaborated with the business magazine, Monocle, on a waistcoat and cardigan, available in grey and navy. Made with the finest cashmere and extra-fine merino, details include a pencil pocket and real horn buttons.
Right - ESK X Monocle Vest - £200
Below - Everything from ESK is made in Scotland including this throw
As life long fans of the Smedley brand, us too! Universal Works has long harboured a dream of working with the British knitwear specialists. Universal Works founder, David Keyte, approached Smedley, who are based near his Nottingham headquarters, and together they embarked on a collaborative collection.
Left - Silver Grey Fine Knit Merino - £175
Smedley's commitment to quality and sustainable production was what initially garnered the attention of Universal Works, their history, heritage and their investment in modern methods added to Universal Works desire to create something that reflected this quality and craftsmanship, whilst embracing the contemporary take that their own brand can offer. Smedley’s archive and experience that comes with over 200 years of production, combined with the depth of knowledge and design ability within the Smedley portfolio was the key area of focus for this joint venture and with growing excitement during the time spent in the studio and factory floor.
Owner and Founder of Universal Works, David Keyte says of the project; “The old and the new, the yin and yang, we wanted to show that you can celebrate your heritage but be very contemporary at the same time. The garments we hope reflect this and video was the way to show this process in real time.”
TheChicGeek says "This collaboration isn't anything radical but that's exactly what John Smedley needs, a few small tweaks to make what is a great product even better and updated."
Below - Espresso Crew Heskin Fine Merino - £165
The most versatile of summer knitwear, the cardigan is a perfect layer over a T-shirt, with shorts or under a suit as a casual three-piece. The British summer is never really warm enough, particularly in the evenings, to go without some form of warm layer. So, this year, TheChicGeek says it's all about the summer cardigan.
Left - John Smedley – Alec – Dusk - £160
FYI – TheChicGeek is offering the chance to WIN £500 to spend at John Smedley – Enter here
Lightweight and stylish, the cardigan can be worn open or closed. Go for something in a fine knit, it will flatter the body more, and with small buttons, much more elegant.
The black, navy and greys fall into ‘basics’, so it’s worth spending more on these as you’ll be wearing them a lot. The rest can be more seasonal and colourful, but be careful of gimmicks, like badges or branding.
TheChicGeek says – Wear it fitted and push the sleeves up.
Right - Reiss – Dennis Navy Wool Cardigan - £85
Left - F&F – Elbow Patch Cardigan - £12
TheChicGeek says – No collars, no shawl collars or toggles of any description.
Left - Zegna – Bi-colour Woven Cardigan - £718
Right - Carven – Men’s Green V-Neck Cardigan - £285
Left - New Look – Black Low V-Neck Cardigan - £9.99
Right - River Island – Navy V Neck Rolled Cardigan - £20
TheChicGeek says - Wear open with a fresh white T-shirt for a preppy feel.
Left - ASOS – Green Cardigan - £20
Right - Hackett – Mayfair Cardigan - £195
This cotton sweatshirt is a basic with a difference. The navy around the collar breaks up the area around the neck and the yellow is a modern touch to the ribbing around the waist and wrists.
The question of which brand of knitwear The Queen wears has now been answered with John Smedley having been granted the Royal Warrant of Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen.
Since 1784 John Smedley has produced fine knitwear in Great Britain and for several years HM The Queen and other members of the Royal Family have been purchasing directly from the brand, having also visited their landmark factory at Lea Mills in Matlock, Derbyshire on multiple occasions since 1935.
"John Smedley has a proud history of manufacturing the finest Merino wool and Sea Island cotton garments in Great Britain", comments Managing Director, Ian Maclean. "It's fantastic to have such a public acknowledgement of the excellence of our garments."
The Royal Warrant of Appointment specifically mentions that the company has been 'appointed into the place and quality of Manufacturer of Fine Knitwear', an affirmation of John Smedley's reputation for skilled garment construction.
Still actively run by the founding family, the brand today employs nearly 400 people over 3 factory locations, with a stand-alone store on London's Brook Street, Mayfair.
TheChicGeeks says "This is great news for John Smedley and really should help with exports. John Smedley do really make the best fine knitwear and The Royal Warrant holds a lot of kudos in countries such as America, Japan and China. Whatever gets them buying more British made product is a good thing and puts John Smedley in a great position for another 229 years!"
Above - The new Nightingale branding for John Smedley.
Young British designer James Long has teamed up with Topman to produce an exclusive knitwear collection. A knitwear specialist, this seven piece collection uses techniques and premium materials found in his runway collections. The six crews and one cardigan is made in Britain using British yarns. The collection consists of mashed-up arans, multi colour tartans, double ribbed crew necks and over sized polka dots, with selected pieces entwined with Lurex for a shiny effect.
"This range was inspired by my favourite sweater wearing musical icons such as the members of The Sex Pistols, The Bay City Rollers and of course Bobby Gillespie and Keith Richards" says James.
£100 for a crew and £120 for the cardigan
Full collection of images below
Perfectly timed seasonally and also in fashion terms, thick, chunky knitwear is the thing to be buying right now - Click here - Wool Week is the annual highlight for The Campaign for Wool.
Launched in 2010, to educate consumers about the benefits of wool and promote wool products to a national audience, The Campaign for Wool is a global community of sheep farmers, retailers, designers, manufacturers and consumers united by patron His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
Retailers such as Topman are promoting their Made in England suiting made from British wool and Marks & Spencer has a selection of jumpers made from wool from the Yorkshire Pennines and made in Leicester. Get involved!