Our merino rower’s henley takes after the knitted, collarless buttoned tops worn by rowers in England at the turn of the 20th century. The style was first seen worn by rowers in the town of Henley-on-Thames, home of Royal Regatta, who wanted a short sleeved, collarless shirt that was more breathable than the long-sleeved, collared version they were wearing, and the name “henley” stuck since.
Just like vintage henleys, it is knitted, but instead of cotton, our version is in a luxurious extrafine merino wool from Zegna Baruffa’s prestigious Cashwool® collection, the world’s softest merino wool with a cashmere like hand feel, making it soft against the skin, as well as light and breezy when worn, hence its name Cashwool®.
Designed to be an elevated version of an old rower’s henley shirt, it is fully fashioned and hand linked (rather than cut and sewn), allowing for a neater fit throughout the whole garment.
It has a deeper v neck than the traditional henley (which has more of a round neck). We believe that the deeper v neck creates a more flattering neckline, and brings it more in line with the shape of the neckline of a collared shirt, allowing the “v-shape” of the neck to align better with the lapels of a sport coat, for example.
We have opted for a two button closure, with beautifully crafted mid brown horn buttons (rather than white mother of pearl or plastic), as we believe the horn buttons make the piece more muted and elegant. We confess that the use of horn buttons is an extravagant choice, used sometimes in the past, certainly not something you see on even the best of henley shirts anymore, but we are all about returning to an older philosophy of garment making which puts quality above all else.
In keeping with the traditional henley shirt design from the turn of the 20th century, our henley has the following features:
It has longer short sleeves, sitting about 2.5 - 3 inches above the elbow, covering most of the upper arm. The longer short sleeves are a deliberate design feature to give the rower’s henley a sense of modest elegance, in contrast to a cotton henley which often stops mid-bicep, making it more informal.
The cuffs and hem have longer ribs, keeping the top well fitted around the body, enabling ease of movement. We believe that the longer ribs also look more flattering and elegant on the wearer than shorter ribs or no ribs (like modern t-shirts and polos).
These smarter aspects are inspired by sportswear from before the 1950s, when they often were worn with tailored clothing. This makes our merino henley a versatile piece – wear it to look more dressed up with casual clothing like jeans, but it would work just as well with a pair of light weight trousers, as a substitute to a shirt.
As it is a piece with its yarns spun in Italy, but knitted and washed in the Scottish Borders, it possesses the unique quality of being light, breathable and soft (characteristic of knitwear made with Italian yarn), but has a robustness that comes with having been washed in Scottish water, with all its unique minerals that strengthen the knitwear, making it last decades. The perfect spring/summer staple to wear season after season, as part of a casual outfit, or with tailored clothing, in place of a shirt.
We have made this particular version in cream melange (predominantly cream but with a hint of grey mixed in), to emulate the white and grey marl colours often found on vintage rower’s Henley shirts.
Please see size chart at the bottom of the page to determine which size is best for you. Other aspects:
Take your usual size for a fitted, slim look (as in the model photos), or size up for a regular fit with more room around the body
Deeper v neck for a more flattering neckline
Longer short sleeves for a more elegant look
Longer ribbed cuffs and hems, in keeping with vintage inspirations
Slim modern fit but has a small amount of natural stretch and moulds to body over time
Body of sweater tapers slightly from the chest down to the hem to give a more fitted look by minimising excess fabric often found around the waist of sweaters
Smaller armhole without being overly restrictive
Model wears size 38/S. He measures: chest circumference 35" (89cm); height 5"10 (178cm).
We are confident in bringing you the world's finest knitwear because we only use the very best at every stage of manufacture:
Quality of fibre: 100% extrafine merino wool of the highest quality, sourced from a special breed of Australian sheep that yields some of the world’s finest merino wool fibres, with a fibre diameter of c. 19.5 microns (the world's finest, hence softest, merino wool). By comparison, most ordinary lambswool averages 21 - 24 microns in fibre diameter. Fibre length is c. 58 – 60mm - the long staple length keeps the sweater in shape and avoids pilling.
Quality of yarn: the world’s best extrafine merino wool yarn produced by world renowned spinners Zegna Baruffa at their famous wool mill in Borgosesia, Northern Italy. Italian specialists in the production of fine, light weight yarns since the early 1800s, Zegna Baruffa had been known in particular for their prestigious Cashwool® collection – merino wool yarns that are regarded as the world’s softest merino, hence “Cashwool®” – the hand feel being so comparable to the softness of cashmere itself, except that it is breezier than cashmere, making it the perfect yarn for lighter weight knits.
Quality of knit: knitted, hand-finished and washed by fourth generation heritage knitwear specialists in Hawick, the Scottish Borders, a region whose expertise in crafting knitwear is without compare. Garments are knitted tightly to minimise gaps and to ensure longevity.
Quality of finish: there is a high degree of hand-finishing. The sweater is "fully-fashioned", as signified by the faint-dotted lines along the sleeve-head of the jumper. This makes the garment more well fitted, much like a bespoke suit. Individual pieces of the sweater are “hand-linked” - a meticulous process by which each tiny knit-loop at the end of each piece of the sweater is linked together by hand, ensuring the seams are the straightest and strongest.
Quality of wash: the finished product is carefully washed in pure Scottish waters with the precise balance of minerals, so that the garment is given its famous soft handle without compromising the integrity of the fibres. Scottish knitwear may feel a little stiff to begin with but will soften naturally with age.
Find out more about the quality of our garments here.
UK sizing is used for our garments. Please see the size conversion table below. Take your usual size for a fitted, slim look, or size up for a regular fit.
The measurements of the garment are set out below. To ensure you have the correct size, you may wish to take a measuring tape to one of your existing jumpers with the best fit and compare measurements. Measurements are approximate, but any variance is minimal and will not impact overall fit given that knitwear has stretch.
Chest width (cm)
Body length (cm)
Hem width above rib trim (cm)
Sleeve length (underarm) (cm)
Ribbed cuff length (cm)
Ribbed hem length (cm)
V neck depth (top button undone) (cm)
If you would like to discuss sizing or any other aspects of the garment, please feel free to contact us.