Knitwear is becoming a serious fashion category in its own right. While basic turtlenecks and minimal sweater styles used to be the norm, bold details are making big waves this season, from open-back or cropped silhouettes to chunky iterations — Ganni's striped version has become a street style favorite — and experimental designs from the likes of PH5. On the luxury front, Gucci and Balenciaga are putting a creative spin on knitwear classics with signature monogram motifs and exaggerated logos.
Plus, a group of emerging labels are taking knitwear to the next level with handmade items and new factory concepts that are both thoughtful and sustainable. Noticing a gap in the market for brands that focus almost completely on cozy knits, these companies offer a range of colors and silhouettes that are quickly winning with shoppers who are on the hunt for the perfect sweater.
From supporting underserved communities and working with local farms to employing the most basic materials for production, read on for seven up-and-coming knitwear brands on the rise.
Founded in 2013, Giu Giu is a knitwear-focused label by Giuliana Leila Raggiani, who splits her time between Paris and Los Angeles. Before starting out her own, Raggiani studied children's wear at Parsons School of Design and knitwear design at Central Saint Martins, cutting her teeth at companies such as Alexander Wang, Anthropologie and Calvin Klein. For Giu Giu, she takes cues from her illustrious grandmother, Palmira Giglia, who once owned a chain of boutiques in Boston and designed its in-house line of Vaccaro turtlenecks, which were popular from the 1960s through the early '90s. Raggiani's own signature item is a ribbed turtleneck called the "Nonna," a contemporary reproduction of her grandmother's original piece in a variety of neutral and more on-trend hues, including pastel pink, slime green and deep orange.
Designer Jess Reese says she's always been a sucker for knitwear. The creative, who graduated from the knitwear design program at FIDM in Los Angeles, now runs her own small-batch, handmade knitwear brand, James Street, based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. (Its signature and most popular item is the Port Beanie, made from merino wool.) Reese is drawn to knitwear because it allows her to create something out of the most basic materials — a spool of yarn. With this, she makes timeless knitwear for women and children.
Launched in 2016 by Veronica d'Souza, Carcel is a sustainable Danish company that works with women who are in living in Peruvian and Thai prisons, providing them with new jobs and fair wages. In a time when much of the fashion industry has been at fault for its poor production standards, Carcel is pioneering a way of producing clothes while empowering and providing for communities in need. Its premium-quality knits are biodegradable and 100-percent natural, and are available in unisex styles.
Since 2012, Marta Bahillo has been working with local farmers in northeastern Spain to produce all-natural knits for women and children. Hailing originally from Madrid, Bahillo studied fashion and textile design in Dublin, Ireland, and lived in Argentina — where she worked for a major fashion house — before launching her own line, called Babaà, of chunky and loose-fitting designs made from Spanish-sourced yarns and Italian organic wool. Plus, all of the brand's samples are donated to a refugees center in Spain.
Prices: €140-€360 (about $160-$411)
Cashmere In Love
Ready-to-wear brand Cashmere In Love is an emerging label focused on knitwear that promotes a lifestyle in which head-to-toe cashmere is seen as a contemporary approach to getting dressed. The luxury brand's designs are handmade using fine yarns from Mongolia, and its seasonal collections offer various knits in different weights and blends for multiple occasions and temperatures. Founder Esra Bezek Dikencik, a Parsons School of Design alum, draws inspiration from her time spent living in London, Istanbul and her travels across the globe.
Growing up, Charlotte Jennings fell in love with knitting. In fact, the creative practice has been passed down through generations of women in her family. Together, Jennings and her mother, Belinda, who had owned a knitwear business in the '80s, started their own label called Frission. (Its name references "that little shiver of a thrill you feel when you see something you love," according to Charlotte.) The handmade knits are all produced in New Zealand using cruelty-free sourced fibers, and their soft, chunky and cozy styles are available in cropped and oversized versions in pretty pastels, like mint, lavender and sky blue, which have steadily grown popular among a slew of Instagram influencers.
Available: Frission Knits
New York-based brand Hesperios exists as a ready-to-wear label for men and women, a literary art publication and a boutique complete with a beautiful tea room and garden in Soho. The fashion line focuses on quality, long-lasting knitwear, produced in a family-owned factory in Peru, where the company uses mainly raw materials like baby alpaca and pima cotton. Founder Autumn Hruby debuted the label’s Fårö sweater — a unisex boxy pullover — in 2016, which was met with overwhelming success, leading to a full knitwear range of simple yet striking pieces, like a collared sweater and frill-and-pleated dress, in 2017.