‘Wrap me in your cashmere fantasy, soft billowing dreams, Protect me from the demons that lie in wait, shroud me in your bubble of joy, I once lived in a ghostown, now that ghost is in a cashmere castle, I am sugar and spice and all things nice,I wrap myself around the shoulders of the rich,I am white and pink and purple too, I am anything you want me to be,Hold me tight against the winds of change, those fancy clothes begging to take my place, I won’t let them destroy my memory, centuries old I deserve a shot at the top again, I have no pre-conceptions and I have no rules I am who you say I am and I am me.’
When it comes to luxury there are three fabrics that spring to mind; silk, wool and cashmere, three sumptuous fabrics vying for your undivided attention. Silk, the Empress of the fabric world is constructed from soft, fluid unstructured fabrics, wool, specifically Argan wool is the Shepherdess who leads all her followers into comfort and Cashmere is the luxury giant who sprung up from ancient times to claim her modern kingdom at the forefront of the fabric world. Made from the hair of the ‘Capra Hircus’, its ability to withstand harsh cold temperatures of minus (-40° C) produces soft, thick protective wool that shields them from the harsh Tibetan/ Himalayan climate and over time has become domesticated to produce ‘commercial, cashmere wool’. Because ‘Capra’s’ grow their coats over a period of six months ( the harsh winter season), by the time it moults during the six month of hibernation, the Capra creates a substantial, high quality wool bounty. Sorted into usuable threads, Cashmere is best ‘harvested’ during spring, where the heat rises causing the goats or ‘Capra’s’ to moult their wool. Eco-friendly, artisanal and cruelty free, its no wonder that world class knitwear retailer ‘Wool Overs’ has brought into ‘sustainable, high quality’ cashmere production.
Founded in 1989, Wool Overs was a concept that was specifically designed to change ‘mass wool, cashmere and knitwear’ production and transform it into a production process that boasted natural and renewable products at low value prices. Their intrinsic belief was that prior to their engagement with the knitwear industry, cashmere, wool and cotton were either made from low quality fabrics when made at low value prices or made from exceptional fabrics that were made to target the ‘rich’ and there was no happy medium. Because the changing landscape of the 90’s saw a decline in the knitwear industry, Wool Overs knew that a radical change was needed to be made and thus listened to the ‘voices’ of the people to curate the entirety of their knitwear collections. To this day, Wool Overs who has since grown to supply 750,000 male and female customers, still uses their customers feedback regarding colour, fabric choice, wool blend and curation of style.The three main fabrics that are used include Merino Wool blends, Cashmere Wool and Cotton, all spun from natural fibers to implement the notion that ‘natural’ and ‘renewable’ products are better quality than the ‘inorganic’ mass produced retailers churning out low quality piece after piece.
Instead Wool Overs seek to re-create knitwear productions missing ecological balance by avoiding the depletion of natural resources and instead creating knitwear that ‘transcends time’ through its durable, long lasting natural fabrics. While clothing can never be 100 % eco-friendly, Wool over’s ability to fuse sustainable high quality fabrics at mid- range prices is impressive nevertheless. Ranging from £20 to £65, each piece is a stark contrast to the £500 cashmere sweaters found in Marylebone and Oxford Street. But how could ‘cheap or at least mid-range’ fabrics be of the same quality as its designer predecessors? As told in ‘The Myth of Cheap Retailers’, cheap retailers do not necessarily use ‘poor quality fabrics’ even when their importation process begins in China; having been proven wrong once before, exploring whether mid-range knitwear prices had an affect on the quality of Wool Overs products was a challenge I was willing to accept.
Choosing a ‘Cashmere and Merino Sleeveless Turtleneck Sleeveless Jumper in ‘Blush’, the jumper retails at £35 and contains a 30 % Cashmere and 70% Merino Wool blend. Soft and spun from a luxurious wool blend the turtleneck’s summer appropriate blush/ceramic pink hue was true to product description and stock image, whilst the fabric was fairly soft to the touch. It was not as soft as I thought the turtleneck would be but according to my research you should be wary of products that are ‘over milled’ because it means that it will be more prone to bobbling and lose its shape quicker. With that in mind the slightly rough texture would improve like all good cashmere, with age. To test the quality of the material I looked for tensions in the knitting; to test tensions stretch a section and it should ping back into shape, if it does hold it up to the light to examine the density of the fabric. With Wool Over’s turtleneck I tested for tensions using the same method and I was pleased to note that I could only see a little bit of visibility outside of the fabric, proving that the quality of the material is excellently constructed.
Next I examined the ‘density’ to see how ‘fluffy’ the fabric was and to my delight it was not. As much as I love fluffy soft jumpers, fluffiness does suggest the yarn was spun from weaker and shorter fibers and like I stated earlier would make it easier to ‘pill’. The turtleneck might not be fluffy but I did notice that after a few washes the fabric became slightly bobbled but it was not enough to pill the fabric so I wasn’t worried. The overall quality of the fabric for the price is good and its colour and style was definitely what attracted me to the piece. To improve I would suggest perhaps making the material slightly thicker, because cashmere should be isothermal but I still felt quite cold on my chest. That being said the turtleneck’s weakness makes it an ideal top for spring, when the change in the seasons can fluctuate between cold and warm in one fell swoop. The turtleneck would also be a great asset to layer underneath a v-neck jumpsuit or pinafore but I chose to pair it with a mid-length bodycon pencil skirt, patent strap stilettos, a boxy mini tote, haute couture accessories and a signature leather jacket to add warmth and toughen the look.
Pros – Colour is true to stock image and comes in six other shades- Fabric is good quality, even if not outstanding and is environmentally friendly- Eco-conscious philosophy correlates with my own desire to conserve ecological balance – Does not pill easily making it a cost-effective purchaseCons– Is not isothermal and does not provide much protection against the cold – Material feels a little rough on bare skin so those who have sensitive skin might find the fabric a little itchy. Overall Rating: 4/5
Would You Buy Knitwear From Wool Overs ?
Shop The Look: Turtleneck- Wool Overs/ Jacket- H&M ( Old Season) Find Similar at Missguided / Skirt- River Island ( Find Similar HERE) / Ring, Necklace & Watch- Debenhams/ Sunglasses- Lindex ( Sold Out Find Similar HERE/ Necklace & Bracelet- Kaytie Wu / Heels & Bag – Carvela At Kurt Keiger