7 Knitwear Brands You Need to Know
There are few wardrobe investments as secure as high-quality knitwear. Indulgently soft versions are not only comforting in the winter, but versatile enough to take you across outfits and seasons.
Fortunately, men’s sweaters have become a focal point in many fashion collections. While knitting has ancient origins, this sartorial endeavour could not be more exciting and alive than it is today. A renewed appreciation for traditional craft and innovative technologies have collided to create truly compelling designs.
Here are seven preeminent labels meticulously producing menswear’s most luxurious knits.
John Smedley has been developing exquisite knitwear in the English countryside since 1784. The timeless collection is informed by its impressive heritage. Each piece showcases ethically-sourced fibres and handcrafted finishes to reach the pinnacle of European quality.
Sea Island cotton, Mongolian cashmere, and Merino wool are dyed using local spring water to ensure a colourfast finish. The house is set apart by 230-years-worth of knitting experience and the passion of its local craftspeople.
Paul & Shark is coveted for its performance-driven knitwear inspired by the world of sailing. Its incomparable designs celebrate masculine elegance and a spirit of adventure. The Italian label experiments with different woolen yarns and gauges to create wonderfully tactile garments.
Artful cable and rib knits lend visual interest to everyday outfits. These heavy-duty sweaters are often insulating enough to be worn like jackets. The collection is enlivened with sporty flourishes for a modern approach to nautical style.
S.N.S. Herning’s iconic sweaters were originally constructed to protect Scandinavian fishermen from stormy seas, while remaining robust enough to withstand the rough work on deck. Today, the family-run company harnesses almost a centuries worth of knowledge and expertise to produce impeccable heritage knitwear.
A small team of only four Danish artisans create the entire collection with old-school machinery. Many of the iconic styles feature the original "bubble" knitting technique, which is more insulating than standard weaves. These limited-run maritime staples convey a sense of texture and timelessness.
Kurt Petter is an avid Austrian skier who has always loved to make a fashion statement on the slopes. As a young man, he fittingly wore a bright yellow self-made pullover to the local downhill championships. While he didn’t win the race, his sweater made a splash and suddenly everybody wanted one.
The Petter family has gone on to produce standout knitwear locally crafted in the Dornbirn region. This mountainous landscape has informed the design process on a practical level — as insulating woolen yarns and weaving techniques are fundamental. The snowcap setting has also come to define the brand’s ruggedly handsome aesthetic. These winter essentials are “built in Austria, at home in the world.”
The American label is spearheaded by Raffi Shaya, known as “the master of colour,” who discerningly dyes knitwear in a kaleidoscope of saturated shades. His renowned brand approaches the pullover as a continually evolving subject matter —reinventing the casual basic in luxurious new compositions— such as two-ply cashmere.
A surprising number of elements come together to perfect these simple sweaters, as the design team pays acute attention to the texture, fit, and finishing touches. The faultless end product is the culmination of many skilled hands.
Brunello Cucinelli has humble beginnings as a farmer’s son who started out in the late-1970s selling handcrafted cashmere knits. While his Italian label has metamorphosed into a luxury phenomenon, its heart and soul remains rooted in artisanal sweaters.
The lauded CEO applies his intellectual philosophies to every garment: “What does cashmere mean to me? It’s the warmest, the most beautiful raw material in the world and it comes from one of the most inhospitable places on Earth. Ponder how Mother Nature works! It’s a special material. I don’t know anyone who has ever discarded a cashmere pullover.” His elegant collection —underscored by natural tones and natty textures— promises to stand the test of time.
7) Loro Piana
The Loro Piana family started as textile merchants at the beginning of the 19th century. This enduring passion for fabrics has turned the Italian house into the world’s predominant producer of cashmere and other fine wools.
The storied company’s quest for outstanding quality noble fibres has lead them to develop the most rare and precious materials known to man. Its baby cashmere —combed from the downy undercoat of Hircus goat kids— reaches an unparalleled level of softness. Loro Piana transforms these exclusive yarns into sumptuous sweaters with luxurious dimension.
Loro Piana knitwear available in select Harry Rosen stores (Bloor Street, Chinook Centre, Les Cours Mont Royal, Pacific Centre, and Yorkdale Mall).