Why Luxury Knitwear?

The "Quiet Luxury" Trend is Nothing New

With greater knowledge and awareness of how the fashion industry affects the planet, buyers are, now more than ever before, looking for more meaning behind their purchases. As a result, we are seeing a significant movement towards quiet luxury and a much keener interest in sustainability across all age groups.

The premise behind the idea of quiet luxury has existed for decades (in fact, it’s very similar to the buying habits of people decades ago), however, it burst into the mainstream with the recent popularity of the television series Succession. Quiet luxury is investing in well-made pieces that are a pleasure to wear, but are neither showy or extravagant. It’s about building a wardrobe that’s not dictated by rapidly-changing trends, rather it comprises timeless garments that you love wearing because they’re flattering, comfortable and made to the highest standards.

 A Taste for the Well-Made - What Luxury Means Today

This concept goes hand-in-hand with our philosophy here at Colhay’s. Our aim is to create luxury knitwear that is so well-made that we are confident it can last for decades if looked after. We firmly believe in investing in classic pieces that you can take care of and take pride in, rather than continually buying cheap, badly made garments that need replacing very quickly. Not only is there a sense of satisfaction that comes with knowing that you’re caring for and aging with your clothing which, if well made, gets better over the years rather than wear out, it’s also far better for the environment to shop this way.

For some time, we have been noticing a clear sway toward this way of thinking and purchasing, both amongst our own customers and on a broader scale too. In the mainstream we’ve noticed the aforementioned quiet luxury being widely embraced. With regards to making items last and, consequently avoiding landfill, second-hand shopping has been widely embraced too, with a large uptake in the use of reselling sites like Vinted and pre-loved shopping. It’s not solely amongst older buyers either, with the recent resurgence of early noughties fashion, also known as the Y2K trend, people in their late teens and early twenties have embraced wearing pre-owned pieces that were well made in the past and which have lasted until now. 

When it comes to our own customers, we are increasingly receiving queries, crucially before making a purchase, regarding the sustainability of our pieces. Often these questions are the purchasing decider and the buyer will make the choice on whether to buy from us according to the answer. The questions themselves are becoming increasingly technical and specific too, indicating a rise in awareness of manufacturing processes and sustainability. Of course, we are more than happy to help with any queries regarding our processes on every occasion. Sustainability is a priority for Colhay’s and we can trace every element of our knitwear supply chain and manufacturing process, right back to the fibres used to create our chosen yarns.

Designing Luxury Knitwear 

As we’ve mentioned earlier in this article, quiet luxury, sustainability and our ethos all rely on garments that won’t go out of style and have been made to the highest standards. For this reason, our approach to creating knitwear must be multi-faceted and highly considered.

The cashmere painter's shawl collar cardigan is designed with a lower buttoning point to create an elongated inverted v shape which broadens the shoulders and nips in the waist - it also emulates the buttoning point that you have on a tailored jacket so as to reflect the flattering shape from tailoring. The thinner shawl collar creates a roll similar to the lapel roll of tailored jacket. 

When it comes to design, we place most importance on ensuring our pieces are flattering rather than on whether they’re on trend. By doing this, we know it contributes to a long life for the item. We really take the time, honing in on even what are seemingly the smallest of details, to strike a balance between creating garments that people find interesting and that are simultaneously flattering and classic.

Our cashmere alpine half zip is designed with a deeper zip and higher collar, both features help frame the face and make the v shape around the neck area more stylish, avoiding the plain "corporate" look of some half zips with shallower zips and shorter collars. These features also enable the collar to be flipped down if desired. 

Knitwear for us is our entire focus and so we can afford it a level of detail and time that many brands with a broader product offering cannot. When knitwear is just a smaller part of a vast product offering, it can end up being given less attention, resulting in garments that might sell well but are plain and ordinary. As a category specialist, we are experts and can offer our customers more interesting designs and yarns. 

This extra time and effort results in smaller changes that make our knitwear flattering. Things that you might not notice unless pointed out, but that significantly contribute toward the garment lasting longer.

Our superfine lambswool rugby shawl sweater is designed with a shorter body, boxier cut and cushy shawl collar, to emulate rugby jerseys of old and to give the garment a sportier look. 

Looking at our Cashmere Wool Chalet Cable Sweater, for example, these elements are tangible.

We are expecting big motifs, busy patterns and chunky knits to be popular this season and this sweater is our take on this particular trend. However, we are also mindful of the longevity of the garment so we have designed an understated, albeit intricate cable knit and in a single colour yarn (rather than a multi-coloured sweater which would have made the sweater far too busy and most likely, short-lived in your wardrobe!). With these design features, this sweater can be worn in the years to come and won’t look dated. It’s likely that some of the more colourful pieces that you’ll see being offered in an effort to follow fashion trends will fall out of favour after a season or two. 

The Merino Father’s Polo Shirt is another example that highlights the care that we take over design. This is a garment you’re likely to see from many other brands as part of a much wider offering. As a smaller part of a large puzzle, they’re often plain and simple. The Colhay’s version has been well thought out with the aim to create something that really flatters the body. Look closely and you’ll spot the saddle shoulder construction and a deep placket, both a nod to the original woollen polos, and elongated cuffs with a slightly tapered waist that create a more flattering look - the saddle shoulder construction makes your shoulders look wider, whilst the tapering of the waist make you look thinner around the waist/belly area, thus creating a masculine silhouette. 

Quality First - The Backbone of Luxury Knitwear

Manufacture is, of course, an enormous factor and at the crux of high quality luxury knitwear. We work with heritage manufacturers and suppliers that have decades, sometimes centuries, of history within the knitwear industry. For knitwear that means being produced in Scotland or Italy. Our knitwear is manufactured in Hawick, a town in Scotland that has a history of knitting dating back to the 18th century.

The reason we do this is two-fold. Firstly, we know that partnering with these knitters, a small team of people who have perfected their craft over many years, will result in higher quality knitwear and thus a longer-lasting product for our customers. These knitters are incredibly skilled and use techniques and processes that, whilst more time consuming and often more laborious than those seen within fast fashion manufacturing, create stronger and better quality knitwear overall.

Secondly, we know that it is vital to support heritage trades such as this. It ensures the livelihood of the knitters as well as helping to ensure the trade itself doesn’t die out. We are already seeing many crafts such as this one decline or even cease to exist, meaning no one has the knowledge or skill to create items of high quality, leaving consumers with no choice but to purchase and use or wear lower quality items in the future. It is therefore essential that, where we can as brands and consumers, we champion these kinds of crafts.

Restoring the Relationship between Manufacturer and Wearer

We are seeing an upsurge of interest from customers with regards to the distance between the manufacturer and buyer, more specifically in shortening this distance where possible. For our UK and even European customers, production in Scotland means this is relatively short. Interestingly, this is reminiscent of the older buying habits that we at Colhay’s are hoping to help to grow in popularity today. Decades ago the idea of buying something that was produced thousands of miles away, as is the way with fast fashion garments, was inconceivable. Rather you would buy pieces made locally to you and have them tailored to fit your body - again by skilled professionals. Somewhere along the line, this mindset flipped and we began to buy clothes that had been made far away, simply hoping they’ll fit, often wearing them regardless before throwing them out soon after.

For us here at Colhay’s, it’s wonderful to see this way of thinking and purchasing begin, albeit slowly, to turn on its head once again. Our passion lies in creating garments that contribute to making this possible by championing heritage knitters, working with raw materials of a supreme quality, and focussing on considered design. As the years continue we are hoping to see this mindset and purchasing habits change even further, with the idea of owning better garments for longer, becoming the norm once again.