“Some of the best knitwear in the world is made in Scotland,” says Mats, who is standing outside of Trunk’s knitwear factory in Hawick, a small town in the Scottish borders famed for its sweaters. He’s wearing a charcoal Trunk Brendon merino jumper with a pair of navy chinos and a suede Valstar jacket, and the crispness of autumn hangs in the air. “Italy of course does lovely knitwear, but knitwear from Scotland feels more down to earth and solid. It’s stronger and longer lasting.”
While jumpers have long been a favourite in our own autumn/winter wardrobes — like familiar friends brought out every cold weather season — here at Trunk we think there is something even more special about knitwear that has been made in the UK. For knitwear has been part of Britain’s cultural identity since before the Industrial Revolution; the word knitting even derives from old English — cnyttan, meaning to knot. Over the centuries, Scottish manufacturers have perfected the art of sweater-making: jumpers, scarves and hats woven in Scotland are famed the worldover for the buttery softness of the yarn, as the factories in Hawick wash their wool in the crystal clear waters from the Lochs.
“Many of the machines our sweaters are knitted on are 50 years old,” says Mats, gesturing to the bundles of our new Trunk knitwear pieces currently in production — from roll necks in merino to crew necks in cashmere. “New machines simply don’t have that same touch.” Our factory, which employs some 125 people, uses the finest Australian wools and Mongolian cashmere, some of which is spun into yarn in the UK, in Yorkshire. “There used to be 16 knitting mills here, but today there are only four left,” says Mats. “Keeping the traditions and skills alive is an important factor in our working with local, UK manufacturers.”
For our new season collection, we have designed four new knit silhouettes that are all made in this factory in Hawick. Developed specially by Mats and Keita, our buyer and business development manager, our new sweaters cover all the wardrobe bases — there’s a chunky roll neck in a rich merino wool (the Norfolk), as well as a button-up, long-sleeved polo shirt (the Hanover) which is great on smart-casual days when you want the effect of a collar without wearing a shirt, and the cable-knit crew neck (the Chester) — crafted from a mid-gauge wool to make it the ideal jumper to layer under a tailored jacket. Which is Keita’s favourite? “The Beaumont cashmere crew neck,” he says. “It’s the softest and most gorgeous yarn I’ve ever seen.”
Mats and Keita opted for neutral colourways that would pair well with the rest of the pieces in our wardrobes. “Our customers like a toned-down and rich colour selection, rather than a bold palette,” says Keita. “Navy and flannel grey were essential, and we picked biscuit and taupe for several styles because it wears nicely with dark greens and browns, and white trousers — which we stock from Incotex, De Bonne Facture and PT Torino.” Of the new sweaters, Keita says that the Hanover merino is “a perfect polo underneath a blazer for a casual Friday,” while the Norfolk is “cosy yet durable and great for everyday use.” He suggests layering them with De Bonne Facture’s chunky overcoat or wearing with Barena’s gilet.
These four smart silhouettes may be new for this season, but their wardrobe longevity is unrivalled — just like the quality of the sweaters made on UK home turf.