The British knitwear brands you need to know

A new era of needle-wielding designers has transformed the humble jumper into a directional, flattering and statement piece. These cross-generational knits appeal to mother as much as daughter – and the best bit? They are all homespun right here in the UK

30 January 2020

Alex Gore Browne

Alex Gore Browne creates timeless knitwear with a playful sense of charm and drama. The Central Saint Martins graduate previously worked with Alexander McQueen and Matthew Williamson before launching her own eponymous collection, flourished with buoyant ruffles, bows and sparky accents. Jumpers are designed in Gore Browne's Cotswold studio and made in the UK and Italy, in an appealing palette of oatmeal, navy, caramel and punchy pinks. She also offers detachable collars, cuffs and bows, which are perfect for adding a pinch of character to your favourite knitwear staples or hairbands. Laura Bailey, Martha Word and Irene Forte are all part of Gore’s gang, as well as mother-in-law Carole Bamford.

alexgorebrowne.com

Chinti & Parker

Founded in 2009 by London-based cousins Anna Singh and Rachael Wood, Chinti & Parker can arguably be credited with kick-starting the rise of the fashion knit. The British brand is renowned for its head-turning array of slouchy cashmere jumpers, boldly spun with stars, neon stripes and zigzag intarsia designs. Visit the flagship boutique in Notting Hill to peruse the entire collection of trophy knits, as well as gowns, joggers and super-soft accessories. 

243 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, London W11 2SE, chintiandparker.com

Last of England

All-singing, colourful knitwear is not for everyone. If you prefer your cashmere relaxed and understated, then look to Last of England. Founder Tom Heber-Percy launched the brand after failing to find a contemporary knit that matched the enduring quality of a decades-old piece from his father’s wardrobe. The British brand creates unisex jumpers that are designed to be lived in and worn for decades, with a wistful, nostalgic aesthetic. Heber-Percy's sweater-wearing muses include Anna Karina, Gary Cooper and a windswept Brigitte Bardot, perched atop a cliff edge in a man's woollen jumper. Knitwear is made in Scotland in a rich yet low-key palette of grey, bottle green and burgundy and collections are often woven with historic references. Case in point: the laidback Teba jacket, which is inspired by a look originally tailored on Savile Row for King Alfonso, later gifted to the Count of Teba. 

lastofengland.co.uk

Madeleine Thompson

Madeleine Thompson’s rainbow-striped knitwear looks as much at home on the slopes as it does as in the city, designed with a distinctly retro sports-luxe vibe. Her latest collection also refashions traditional Chinese qipaos in sumptuous Italian cashmere, which you can wear with the matching trousers for an insouciantly elegant look.

madeleine-thompson.com

Bella Freud

Knitwear veteran Bella Freud needs no introduction. The daughter of artist Lucian Freud and a fixture in London’s creative circles, the British designer worked as a stylist and designer before launching her cult collection of slogan knits in 2007. Freud cooly captures the free-wheeling spirit of the seventies through pop culture references spanning Jane Birkin and Allen Ginsberg, spun with a signature dash of wit. The cult 'Je T’aime Jane’ and ‘Ginsberg is God’ slogan jumpers remain bestsellers, worn by everyone from Alexa Chung to Kate Moss and Laura Bailey.

49 Chiltern Street, Marylebone, London W1U 6LY, bellafreud.com