If you’ve ever been dazzled by ultra-low pricing for cashmere sweaters only to be disappointed by a shapeless, pilling mess weeks later, you’re not alone. Check out these 5 startups and retailers to find quality cashmere sweaters for men (and women).
Modern Fellows’ favorite cashmere sweaters come from New York-based menswear startup Proper Cloth. Though better known for their stylish, made-to-measure dress shirts and casual button-downs, founder Seph Skerritt has amassed a large and growing line of off-the-rack knitwear, suits and sport coats, overcoats and trench coats, neckties, and accessories. Proper Cloth is turning out top-of-the-line cashmere sweaters manufactured in Madagascar from Todd & Duncan Scottish Cashmere, a heritage mill founded in 1867 that spins its yarn in Kinross, Scotland using water from Loch Leven. The sweaters are simple, with minimal accents, and feel amazingly soft and comfortable thanks to 37 millimeter staple length cashmere fibers. From experience, pilling has been minimal and the sweaters continue to look and feel great after many wears. At $175 and up, these crewneck and v-neck cashmere sweaters are more expensive than the ones that are on sale at the local department store, but they’re totally worth the splurge. We are counting on them to look great for years to come.
Matt Scanlan and Diederik Rijsemus founded New York-based startup Naadam in 2013 with a focus on ethically-sourced cashmere and support for their suppliers and partners. Naadam sources its organic cashmere from Mongolia and uses extra-long fibers that average from 39 to 42 millimeters in length. (They note that is around 30 percent longer than the requirements for Grade A cashmere.) While they offer a limited selection of 100 percent cashmere sweaters at $195, the company boasts a variety of less-expensive cashmere blends that feature in waffle-knit henleys, lounge wear, and “liquid cashmere” tee shirts and hoodies. Their website contains great background on what to look for in a cashmere sweater (“The longer the fiber, the longer your sweater lasts… The thinner the fiber, the softer the sweater… You can wash cashmere with your shampoo.”)
Founded in 2011 by Michael Preysman, Everlane promotes the idea of “radical transparency” in its supply chain. They also produce stellar knitwear, including cashmere crewneck and v-necks, which have been a staple of their curated collection for some time. Everlane features a range of $100 cashmere sweaters, which are a steal for the quality of fabrics and construction. The sweaters, which range from solid earth tones to more adventurous colors and patterns, are made in Dongguan, China using Grade A cashmere fibers measuring 35 millimeters from Inner Mongolia and are cut slimmer than most.
Back in 2002, co-founders Adam Holdsworth and Nick Falkingham began Pure Collection out of the United Kingdom with a goal of selling “the world’s finest cashmere, sensibly priced and expertly crafted into beautiful, modern styles to make you feel special and look terrific.” Last year, under new CEO Sam Harrison, the company refreshed its online presence and now delivers Mongolia-bred cashmere sweaters spun from fibers of at least 40 millimeters from around US$150 (and less on sale). Pure Collection’s cashmere features a variety of styles — like zip necks, chunky cable knits and sweatshirts – and bright colors like hunter green and pillarbox red missing from many other retailers.
Uniqlo founder Tadashi Yanai said from the beginning that his Japan-based retailer was a technology company first. The retailer has made a big push into the United States over the past several years on the back of a reputation for inexpensive-yet-durable staples. Uniqlo’s cashmere sweaters are a good value for $100 (or less during frequent sales), and have held up well over several years of use, though selection and sizes are often limited.
About JakeJake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.
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