By this point in the year you’ve probably raided the bag beneath the bed (or whatever storage system you use for your wardrobe’s off season) and pulled out your favourite jumpers, cardigans and rollnecks. Hopefully you found them free of moth holes and ready to wear for another winter. Maybe some needed a gentle launder, others a darn in the elbow. The beauty of investing in hard-working essentials is that they’re there to greet you season after season.
And when it comes to knitwear, paying attention to fibres is the key to finding pieces that last. Merino wool, cashmere, cotton, alpaca and mohair are some of the best choices for staying warm (without overheating) and ensuring longevity in your closet.
If you’re in the market for a cosy new layer, there’s an energy for personality-packed pieces in the air – whether that’s made-to-order styles and DIY moments or bold colours that shake up classic silhouettes.
New Zealand brand Kowtow is built on a circular design model with a commitment to transparent manufacturing and responsible trade. But how does that translate into its knitwear collection? Pieces like the Autumn Check jumper, Composure cardigan and Staple sweater – which are made from 100 per cent certified Fairtrade organic cotton – are knitted individually to prevent yarn waste during production. Other sustainably minded seasonal standouts include the Unity sweater in moss green and the Harry vest with tie sides.
Walking the line between timeless and trending, Assembly Label’s range of knitwear is a firm favourite. With a focus on fabric (wool, cashmere and alpaca fibres are common on care labels), these well-priced pieces promise to last winter after winter. This season knit shirts are spun in extra-fine merino wool, making them prime for layering, while the classic Iris knit comes in a rainbow of hues.
McIntyre Merino makes a statement. The Melbourne brand’s signature bright (often striped) styles are packed with personality – see the Gravity jumper, Jose cardigan and range of matching sets for proof. But they also promote the power of natural fibres, particularly Australian wool. With proper care, these pieces will leave a legacy on your wardrobe. “Treat a good knit like jeans and only wash once or twice a season,” founder Ned Scholfield says. “When summer comes, wash your knits and store them in a garment bag. This means there will be nothing for those nasty moths to eat and they will leave your favourite knits alone.”
Doing things slowly is Monday Journal’s motto. Based in Wānaka, New Zealand, the brand offers a small collection of clothing and knitwear, as well as patterns and yarn for DIY enthusiasts. “I have always loved making things by hand – you cannot beat the satisfaction and pride in wearing something that you have made,” founder Phoebe Paterson says. “Not to mention it is incredibly addictive and hard to put down once you get into the swing of a project.” But if you’re not so crafty, you can wear Paterson’s projects with pride. Pieces like the self-proclaimed Ugly sweater, Honeycomb cardigan and Boyfriend V-neck vest are regularly in-stock and ready to ship.
Friends With Frank
If you’re a member of the cardigan gang, be sure to peruse Friends With Frank’s winter offering: the Agatha, Agnes, Noah and Joni styles show off the silhouette well this season. But the Sydney brand might be most loved for its fluted-sleeve dresses and tops – and coordinating pleated skirts – which are made from ribbed cotton that can be worn year round.
Best known for its collection of button-down shirts, LMND is here to inject a little colour into your life. “Colourful knitwear can liven up our often monochromatic winter wardrobes without a complete seasonal overhaul,” founder and creative director Ana Maria Escobar says. “Play with textures by pairing a crisp shirt with chunky knitwear. Opt for contrasting colours or clashing stripes and patterns for something fun.” The brand’s Dakota and Nicci sweaters are great starting points.
Logo details and embellished touches bring Aje’s signature charm to the brand’s knitwear collection. If you’re looking for statement styles that will carry an outfit, the Botanica knit jumper, Grooves Lace Stitch cardigan and Crescent knit crop top work wonders. The brand’s Athletica line offers up a quarter zip jumper this season that doesn’t require you to break a sweat when styling.
A Francie knit is forever. Luxurious but low-impact is the model that founder Anna Woodruff has built her business on, endeavouring to work with ethically accredited factories across Australia and New Zealand. “Our idea of the perfect knit is pieces that respect the body in both fit and in feel,” Woodruff says. “We take the time to do countless fittings on many different beautiful figures, and find the best-quality yarns that feel beautiful against the skin – no itchy wool here.” The Nimbus Raglan, Poet sweater and reversible Doll’s cardigan are prime examples.
Focusing on two key silhouettes – the Big Knit jumper and Big Knit Cardigan – in a variety of colours, Lil’ Knits aims to offer garments that transcend seasons and can be worn year after year. Exclusively using natural or recycled fabrics is an important part of the process for founder Lillian Morgan, who is working towards having an entirely Australian-based production for her small but growing business.
Like most things Lee Mathews, the brand’s knitwear offering is filled with timeless, quality pieces that offer plenty of personality. Seasonal highlights include the Sawyer knit polo for layering beneath blazers and coats, luxe cashmere turtlenecks that will swaddle you in style and the draping Lakota poncho that basically feels like you’re wearing a blanket. Wide-leg pants made from cashmere are a secret weapon when it comes to looking polished in plummeting temperatures.
Frisson Knits are handmade in Aotearoa. Each piece is unique and shines a light on how much care goes into the craft. Buying a bespoke knit will cost you more, but pieces like the Isabella sweater and Annie cardigan will find a place in your wardrobe for many years to come.
Knitwear is at the heart of New Zealand brand Marle – it was creative director Juliet Souter’s major at university. With a modern take on traditional silhouettes, Marle’s collection of sweaters and cardigans reject the idea of always needing “newness”, and instead seek to build on what’s already in your wardrobe. Pieces like the Bon, Ari and Joni jumpers are heroes of day-to-day styling. “A piece of knitwear made from natural fibres can’t be beat. They are second to none next to the skin and provide unparalleled warmth and moisture-wicking benefits,” Souter says. “When it comes to fit, my personal favourite is a slightly oversized crew neck jumper in a classic stitch.”
Melbourne brand Elka Collective defines cosy chic with its collection of woollen wares. Blanket stitch detailing gives the wrap-style Larsson cardigan a refined finish. The Juniper knit is made for layering with its V neckline and spread collar. And the Holmes knit will splice winter outfits with its clementine colourway.
Camilla and Marc
Camilla and Marc do modern wardrobing well. And the brand’s knitwear collection is no different. Chunky turtlenecks like the Poppy knit and Merewood match back with denim and tailoring alike for work and weekend wear. Ditch the usual dreary winter hues in favour of bold pieces like the Metsa, Lotus and Caprani sweaters this season.
New Zealand label Standard Issue has been crafting knits for more than 40 years. Simplicity is at the heart of low-impact styles made from cashmere, merino, possum merino and alpaca. The brand has recently relaunched its Jumper for Jumper initiative, in partnership with Middlemore Foundation. For every jumper purchased this winter, Standard Issue pledges to knit and gift a jumper to a Kiwi kid in need.
There is nothing basic about Bassike’s knitwear. If you’re a lover of oversized silhouettes, this turtleneck will be right up your alley. Boxy-fit mohair and cashmere styles feel fresh season after season. And this polo-look cardigan is preppy enough to pique interest.
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