Five Of The Best Patterned Knits
Our pick of the sweaters and cardigans to wrap up in as we head into autumn
Before we get to the good stuff, a warning. You’re likely to read the word “intarsia” at several points in what follows. It’s one of those industry terms – like “transitional” or “hero piece” – we find ourselves typing without giving a second thought to how silly we’d sound if we said it out loud. In front of our friends at the pub, say. In fact, we did utter it once and haven’t been invited out for a drink since.
But instead of lamenting the sorry state of our social lives, let us explain. The term does have a technical meaning. It is a method of knitting that uses at least two different coloured yarns, to be specific. But, although less accurate, it’s easier to call it by another name. We’ve picked: patterned. And not just because it’s one of our key trends this season. Rather, it’s the simplest way to describe the myriad designs up for grabs this season. Not all of them are the same, of course. Some are plainer than others. Some have logos. Others are striped. The point is there’s something that’ll suit the tastes of both the sartorially staid and more adventurous folks below. Here’s our edit of the sweaters and cardigans we’ll be wearing as temperatures drop and leaves start to fall.
It’s no longer legal to advertise cigarettes in the UK or to package them in anything other than delightfully coloured Pantone 448C wrapping, a “drab, dark brown” scientifically proven to be the world’s most unappealing colour. And so this bright Marlboro-red sweater already looks a little retro to British eyes. It’s been made by The Elder Statesman, the cult knitwear brand helmed by Mr Greg Chait, whose latest collection serves as a meditation on the convergence of Eastern and Western philosophies, hence the slogan. The cashmere specialist is based in sunny So-Cal so, in homage (or as a wistful elegiac for the end of the hottest summer on record), we suggest wearing it with some appropriately laidback white jeans and Converse.
The shawl-collar cardigan is an ideal solution when it’s not quite cold enough for a coat but you still feel a slight chill when you venture out of doors. This RRL option has all the rugged appeal of the stuff you might see on an American homestead, which makes sense because its inspired by what its designer, Mr Ralph Lauren, wears when he’s on his own Colorado ranch, doing burly ranch-type things. As you can imagine then, it looks very good indeed worn over a lumberjack-worthy Buffalo shirt. The indigo-dyed intarsia pattern – which is based on turn-of-the-century blankets – also goes well with selvedge denim. And if you want some sturdy footwear to round the whole thing off, you can’t possibly go wrong with Red Wing Shoes’ born-in-the-USA 875 Moc boots.
Once upon a time you needed a five-year business plan and significant capital investment to launch a clothing brand; now things have been democratised and social media is very much part of the reason why. Heron Preston, one of MR PORTER’s latest brands, is one such example that springs to mind. But it’s not just a slew of streetwear brands that are capitalising on the marketing potential of the Instagram platform – the app’s creative opportunities are becoming more and more relevant for established houses, too. In the case of the above example, Ms Silvia Fendi spotted artist @hey_rilley’s bootleg designs while scrolling and, instead of filing a lawsuit for infringement, direct messaged her way into a collaboration. The results, a series of positive slogans like the “Family” intarsia on this sweater, incorporates Mr Karl Lagerfeld’s powerfully simple zucca (aka the double F) monogram, which the designer says took him just three short seconds to sketch. Now that’s what we call a good logo.
It’s not quite Halloween yet, but come 31 October, you won’t find us in a scratchy costume doling out sweets to trick or treaters. Instead, our plan is to be sitting comfortably the night before at London’s Prince Charles Cinema watching our favourite campy horror-comedy, The Lost Boys. If his latest collection is anything to go by, it seems Mr Mike Amiri carries a torch for the late 1980s classic, too. Held in Paris’ cavernous and crumbling baroque Beaux-Arts chapel, the AMIRI show was an ode to the designer’s youth, when he fancied himself a glam-rock vampire-type à la Mr Kiefer Sutherland’s turn in the cult film. Glittery skinnier-than-skinny jeans and leopard-print leather constituted the bulk of the offering while the models were made up in red eyeliner to resemble the undead. We imagine for every day, you’d probably prefer something, a little subtler? This bouclé – a fancy French word that essentially means fluffy – sweater will do nicely. It’s knitted with Mr Sutherland’s toothy visage taken from one of the movie’s most memorable scenes.
Given the bold attention-grabbers on the market, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a patterned knit has to make a loud statement. That couldn’t be further from the case. You can just as easily go down a simpler route with something like this sophisticated Thom Browne wool and mohair piece, which is subtly striped with the New York designer’s trademark tricolour bands through the shoulders and sleeves. Think of it as a varsity athletics sweatshirt, all grown up. It’s the sort of thing you could wear under a blazer to the office without drawing too much attention to yourself, aside from a few envious looks from your colleagues. Just add tailored trousers and a slim portfolio.