Whisky, haggis and poetry recitals are the traditional order of play for a Burns Night supper. For those not in the know, the annual event celebrates the life of the Scottish national poet Robert Burns and has been merrily adopted south of the border. But there is another way to celebrate all things Scottish, namely by coming over all warm and fuzzy with another famed export: cashmere.
Italy is known for its fine leather, India for silks, but for Scotland it’s all about spinning a yarn – and cashmere, wool and tweed remain a thriving industry. Despite facing increasing competition in recent years as overseas companies produce the luxury fabric at a lower cost, cashmere remains the seventh-largest export from the country and contributes around £200m to the economy.
It’s not just the Scots getting in on the act – in 2012, Chanel purchased Hawick-based mill Barrie Knitwear, which has produced cashmere for the luxury label for 25 years, as part of its Paraffection stable of specialist manufacturers. That same year, Chanel took over Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, to stage a Highland fling of a fashion show. Since then, Barrie has been transformed into a fashion brand, with its own line, retail stores and ad campaign featuring actress Lily Collins and shot by Karl Lagerfeld. Another fine old establishment is Johnstons of Elgin which dates back to 1797.
The best Scottish cashmere
Brora represents a contemporary approach to cashmere since it was founded in the Nineties and has collaborated with exciting young designers including Eudon Choi, Michael van der Ham and Louise Gray. Pringle of Scotland has updated its 200-year-old brand, too, with its Deconstructed platform allowing customers to customise designs.
A newer name you might not know is Rosie Sugden, who launched her range of accessories in 2011. Her quirky design approach marries classic pieces with outré detailing; think tiger stripes and heart motifs.
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