Sunday, December 1, 2013

Amended import quotas in 2005 allowed China to export massive quantities of cashmere, encouraging High Street stores to produce affordable cashmere garments. Woefully constructed of fibers rejected by the likes of Johnstons of Elgin, these cashmere products are just as ephemeral as other clothing manufactured for the moment. 

As fashion becomes ruled by short term seasons (think Best Dressed Lists updated daily, "look de la semana" and it's only a matter of time before updates occur hourly, by the minute etc.) it poses a dilemma for the eco conscious consumer. Developing a personal sense of style and hand knitting continue to offer an alternative.
Jaggy Nettle scarf & Harris tweed jacket; scarf is printed not intarsia photo: Ruth Cameron

Scottish fashion and cashmere is a large component of of the Scottish textile economy, employing 22,000 workers, primarily concentrated in the Scottish Borders region. Johnstons of Elgin has a mill in Hawick, the epicenter of knitwear and industry in the Borders which employes approximately 4,000 individuals. As Scotland relies on the export of fashion and luxury cashmere, creative alternatives to purchasing the raw material from free range sources are being explored. It's been estimated that if all British based brands produced 10% of their production in the UK, it could contribute to creating sustainable manufacturing base. Jenny Lister, V & A fashion curator has pointed out that,"Scottish fashion is so interesting because of the dichotomy between rural crafts and edgy contemporary fashion. Lister cites DC Dalgliesh, as a company that has combined traditional techniques with current technology. Founded in the late 1940's because Dixon Colton Dalgliesh was unable to find the quality of traditional tartan fabric, the company has created a niche, noted for tartans for kilts that are worn by Queen Elizabeth among others. To continue evolving various cashmere companies are working with designers, for example the London design team, Clements Ribeiro has been working with Barrie.
Jaggy Nettle skirt/leggings?

Jaggy Nettle, an upstart in the world of fashion, has created innovative techniques such as printing directly on cashmere at their facility in Hawick. The process is described on their blog, "Our method of printing cashmere is unique to us and something which we have developed over the last 15 years.  Its an unforgiving task with absolutely no margin for error, from the development of recipes, steam times, pulls, washing, weighing, screen prep....the list goes on...  Our print is indiscernible in touch to the rest of the garment and becomes integral to the knit as opposed to prints which lie on the surface of fabric.  Many people assume on first look that the decorative adornments are intarsia - a method of knitting designs into garments - and are often visibly shaken when they are told "get your hands of my printed cashmere".  Its a beautiful thing, a rare, difficult and rather expensive thing to achieve with absolutely minimal room for error and that is why we love it.  "

Discovered this Brazian design team, love their garments and the photographs! If you are wondering what this has to do with knitting in Scotland, you would be correct if you responded nothing. Garments hand knit with roving, have incredible sculptural quality...
Brazilian designers Graziella Cavalcanti and Julia Guglielmetti working with photographer Aaron Kawai


Designers: Graziella Cavalcanti and Julia Guglielmetti 
Photography: Aaron Kawai
Styling: Mariana Queiroz
Make Up: Bel Lüscher
Model: Jordana Zimmermann (VZM)