A Guide to Sustainable Sweater Weather
Eight brands that are setting a better example.
For those preparing to head into the chilliest time of year—East Coast dwellers, for instance—there's a common routine that takes place: We dig out our favorite, softest sweaters from storage and reunite with the feeling of cozy crewnecks that we can wear for [redacted number of] days in a row, and timeless cashmere we'll style with blazers as often as we do with sweatpants. In a way, this in itself is a sustainable practice. We care for and wear the knits we love repeatedly, season after season. But inevitably when it's time to add a new sweater to the collection, the below brands offer an especially thoughtful place to start looking.
Designing a range of traditional basics—think gray crewnecks and oversize cardigans in oatmeal—and more cheeky aesthetics, the below are some of the best knitwear labels to know. After all, when purchasing an item that's made of natural materials, such as wool, you might care whether it's being sourced and produced with as minimal harm to resources and the environment as possible. With this in mind, take a closer look ahead at how these eight brands are making the future of sweater weather more sustainable and are very likely behind your next favorite purchase. Your future self will be glad you did.
New York-based Leret Leret is a gender-neutral line of sweaters that has instant hanger appeal, thanks to the use of colors and playful prints (see: pizza, evil eyes, and indistinguishable marijuana leaves). The brand focuses on a single silhouette—the crewneck—with cashmere sourced, produced, and committed to honoring traditional practices in Mongolia.
Made in small batches in New York, Philadelphia, and Peru, Wol Hide creates sumptuous knits that will speak to anyone who loves a closet filled with chic, neutral-colored essentials. While the brand stays sustainable by using organically grown and deadstock fabric, it also works closely with a family-owned farm for its cotton, planted from the same breed of seed used by Indigenous communities on the land some 40 years ago.
Sourced and produced in Peru, Eleven Six's line offers classic knitwear with a little twist by way of colorful patterns and peek-a-boo cutouts. To stick to its commitment to sustainability, Eleven Six only dyes products with environmentally friendly chemicals, provides care for alpacas from whom wool is sourced, and keeps waste to a minimum while working to upcycle any deadstock they create.
Yan Yan Knits is one of the most charming knitwear brands to launch in the past few years, with designers Phyllis Chan and Suzzie Chung spinning colorful designs influenced by their own families and Chinese culture. Behind the inspired styles, the knits are also spun using recycled yarn—the brand estimates that 50 percent of the yarn in the entire collection has been recycled and therefore has been saved from becoming part of the fashion industry's unnecessary waste.
New Zealand-based Frisson Kits is known for its use of mohair that's sourced, knitted, and dyed locally. Think of these as long-term investment sweaters due to the high-quality knits that maintain their shape and quality for a long time to come.
Spanish label Paloma Wool keeps a close eye on the production of its knitwear, often recognizable for its quirky patterns, by sourcing and producing it locally—an hour from its studio in Barcelona, the brand's site confirms. In addition to manufacturing as consciously as possible, the brand also aims to create products that are easy and more affordable for consumers to care for (AKA no "dry clean only" instructions) and wear repeatedly.
Cashmere sweaters are forever wardrobe items and UK-born Arch4 produces some of the best modern classics in streamlined silhouettes that defy trends. The label uses traceable cashmere—meaning it creates with more transparent oversight into the sourcing of its raw materials—and is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), an independent certification that ensures organic textiles are sourced in ways that won't deplete natural resources.
This L.A.-based brand hones in on cashmere's history by sourcing its fibers from the Pamirs Mountain, the fabric's place of origin. Furthermore, it produces its line of timeless knits—as well as other wardrobe staples—within proximity to its sourcing location to reduce its carbon footprint. With a small, but impressive, collection, W.Awake is a future-thinking brand that's resisting the current fashion cycle for something much slower and thoughtful.
Photo: Courtesy of Instagram/@palomawool
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