Small, but mighty
The dignity of craft, being at the heart of our brand’s philosophy, led us deep into the Scottish Borders when we were on the hunt for the world’s finest knitwear manufacturers.
Here, in a quiet, unassuming town called Hawick, stands the last bastions of Scottish knitwear craftsmen who, since the town began making knitwear in the 18th century, have been regarded as some of the best knitwear makers in the world and remain so to this day.
It is the industry’s best kept secret. This small handful of mostly family run knitwear facilities in Scotland, though reduced in size over the years, have certainly not reduced in stature.
It is no wonder that preeminent luxury fashion brands and Savile Row tailors continue to partner with or, in some cases, own these knitwear manufacturers who remain responsible for crafting the world’s finest knitwear for the high end market.
what makes knitwear made in Scotland so special?
It is world renowned not just for its supreme comfort and softness, but importantly, longevity - this means a garment that retains its shape despite years of regular wear, maintains its warmth and softens naturally over time, moulding to the body shape of the wearer, getting better with age.
When the Scots set out to create a piece of knitwear, they expect it to last decades, if not an entire lifetime.
Knitwear of this calibre was common prior to the 1980s when much of it was produced to the highest standards by heritage makers in Scotland and Italy, but as more companies came under pressure to outsource manufacturing to lower cost facilities, so did knitwear of this quality become a rarity in today's throwaway culture.
Our Scottish craftsmen continue to be confident in creating knitwear of this supreme quality because, over a span of 200 years, each facet of the Scottish knitwear industry has committed to ensuring that the very best goes into every stage of manufacture - from sourcing the best fibres, to spinning the best yarns to applying the best knitting and washing techniques. The spinners and knitters work closely together, combining their centuries' worth of expertise and experience to create knitwear of unrivalled quality.
There are three key stages to making a piece of knitwear:
Stage 1: The Finest Fibres
We only use 100% natural lambswool and cashmere of the highest quality. This means fibres that are the longest (meaning most durable), finest (meaning the softest) and strongest of its kind. They are sourced by Todd & Duncan, one of the world’s oldest and most revered producers of fine yarns who hold themselves to the highest standards of quality control well beyond industry norms.
Our cashmere fibres are c. 15.5 microns in diameter and c. 38mm in length, some of the world's finest and longest.
Our superfine lambswool is c. 18.5 microns in diameter, when most lambswool is between 21 - 24 microns, making ours the world's softest.
Read more about the quality of our fibres.
Stage 2: The Finest Yarn Spinners
Sourcing the best fibres is a good start but it only tells part of the story. The fibres then need to be washed, dyed and spun into yarn. These steps require meticulous attention to detail and an experienced, gentle approach to preserve the integrity of the fibres, whilst giving the yarns strength and longevity.
Todd & Duncan has been processing fibres and spinning yarn since 1867 and their incomparable expertise in turning the best fibres into yarn is known the world over, earning them the reputation as one of the world’s premium yarn spinning facilities. The whole process from cloud-like fibre to yarn is carried out at their famous Loch Leven Mill, in Kinross, Scotland.
The yarn is also inspected at every stage of the production process, with each cone of yarn being uniquely identifiable and traceable back to the farm where it came from.
Read more about Todd & Duncan’s world renowned yarn production process.
Stage 3: The Finest Knitters
Our knitters from Hawick have been knitting the world’s finest cashmere and wool sweaters since the mid 20th century. However, the history of the town as the world’s premium knitwear destination stretches as far back as the 18th century when the first knitting facilities were set up. Knitters in this town therefore inherit 200 years of experience and expertise.
Here, our knitters champion time-honoured techniques that have long been abandoned by mass production elsewhere in the world, such as knitting yarns densely to help the garment hold shape, using a high degree of hand-finishing and carefully washing (but not over-washing) a finished garment using Scottish water, all of which contribute to the beautifully soft handle and longevity of your garment.
Read more about our knitters' techniques and why they make all the difference to your knitwear.