A lot of people see cashmere as being a little self-indulgent, an unnecessary extra expense when just plain wool is perfectly serviceable. But trust me: once you try it, you won’t go back. The finest cashmere knitwear comes from Scotland and the best Scottish cashmere is from a town called Hawick – pronounced Hoyk – in the Scottish Borders.
If it says “made in Scotland” on the label, chances are it’s made in Hawick. The town has been producing knitwear since 1771, when Bailie John Hardie installed the first knitting machine. Today, there are multiple producers making garments under their own names and for others.
The finest cashmere starts with raw material from Northern China or Mongolia. The wool from four goats is needed to make one jumper and there can be up to 30 different manufacturing processes involved in putting it all together. The higher the ply, the thicker the jumper.
Burberry leaf-patterned scarf, £150, mrporter.com
If you’re buying cashmere as a gift, I suggest sticking to the classics – crewnecks, roll-necks, v-necks – in fairly conservative colours.
Johnstons of Elgin has a beautiful thick, 8 ply aran cable roll collar jumper in a light putty colour (£495, johnstonscashmere.
com) that would make me very happy indeed come Christmas morning.
Peter Scott has a great 2 ply cashmere crewneck (£249.99, peterscott.co.uk), which is perfect for indoor wear. Go for masculine neutrals like camel, navy, grey or black.
Turnbull & Asser has a super-soft v-neck in a handsome, rustic brown made by John Laing
(£395, turnbullandasser.co.uk), and another good option is the soft grey crewneck cable knit from Anderson & Sheppard (£395, anderson-sheppard.co.uk). Both go with everything and look good on pretty much any body shape.
For something younger and sportier, try a centrezipped cashmere hoodie like the ones in Brora’s latest collection (£419, brora.co.uk); it really is the ultimate leisurewear. For those looking for something smaller, don’t forget accessories: scarves, socks, hats and gloves. Lochcarron of Scotland has a great line of tartan scarves (£79.95, lochcarron.co.uk), or for something a little more fashion-forward, Burberry
has some excellent leaf print scarves, although they will set you back £450 a pop (mrporter.com).
A final word of warning: cashmere is delicate, make sure you check the cleaning instructions before blindly putting it into the washing machine, otherwise you may have to lose a considerable amount of that Christmas weight.
Marcus Jaye is founder of TheChicGeek.co.uk.