Rarity and luxury being such libidinous bedfellows, cashmere has always been welcomed into the fashion world’s VIP area with sycophantic zest. Harvested by combing the secondary follicles from specific anatomical regions of just one species of goat - an animal which can produce just four to six ounces of under-down each year, once found only in the now disputed area between India and Pakistan - it’s a fabric barely meted out justice by the word “rare”.
The world has a perverse habit of putting parsimony into overdrive when it comes to the most useful and beautiful raw materials (gold, the rarest of the precious metals, is dense, soft, refuses to corrode and enthrals the pupils of even the least mercenary amongst humankind), so it’s no surprise that such a natural scarce raw material as cashmere offers up such absurdly wearable garments – not least when it comes to soft-and-silky knitwear.
If cashmere in general is an exceptional, rarefied fabric, William & Sons' cashmere is an altogether more rarefied experience than aficionados are likely to find elsewhere. The company’s cashmere garments are handmade in Scotland - at the brand's own factory which was established more than 60 years ago in Hawick: a town famed internationally for its fine knitwear production (the excellent water quality which makes its cashmere the softest available) and the very epicentre of cashmere heritage and savoir faire. When cutting edge designs and cuts are applied to cashmere fibres the quality of those that emanate from here, the results are going to be superlative.
Simple jumpers and cardigans are of elemental importance in any gentleman’s wardrobe, and those looking to update their repertoire – particularly the more layering-savvy – should look towards William & Son’s two-pocket shawl-collared cardigan as well as the quintessentially British brand’s two-ply shawl collar jumper, both of which are spun and knitted in Scotland. Sliding one onto your torso for the first time in several months is, like the first frost and the whiff of burning logs, one of the enchanting aspects of the onset of winter. And that’s before we get on to the pieces’ versatility: singing mellifluous harmony with a patterned T-shirt (a Breton stripe would get our vote), these two pieces can also serve as an alternative to the blazer (over shirt and tie) or even over one, the shawl collars’ protrusive juxtaposition to lapels being a striking one.