The British knitwear brands you need to know

A new era of needle-wielding designers has transformed the traditional knitted jumper into a directional, flattering and statement piece. These cross-generational 'IT knits' appeal to mother as much as daughter, from slogan sweaters and Scottish-spun wool cardigans to flamboyant cashmere co-ords

The independent British knitwear labels to have on your wishlist this winter 

8 October 2020

Alex Gore Browne

Basic Sweater, £195; Carousel Collar, £245
Carousel Sweater, £465; Silk Bow, £165

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 sparkly 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 Ward and Irene Forte are all part of Gore’s gang, as well as mother-in-law Carole Bamford. 


Band Knit, Alphabet Knit, both £220
Carrington Cardigan, £280

HADES' candy-colored jumpers are emblazoned with the names and lyrics of founder Cassie Holland's favourite bands, including Joy Division, Devo and X-Ray Spex. Alexa Chung is regularly spotted wearing The Smiths jumper, while the Alphabet knits are a favourite amongst fashion editors. Jumpers are handcrafted in small batches in Hawick, Scotland, using hardwearing merino and lamb’s wool, which is milled in Yorkshire – demonstrating the brand's commitment to supporting British manufacturers. This season, chunky cardigans are finished with surrealist buttons that refashion Greek gods, galloping horses and oversized beetles in brightly-hued 3-D resin.

Chinti & Parker 

Stone asymmetric cashmere jumper, £350; green sgraffito merino wool cardigan, £295

Founded in 2009 by London-based cousins Rachael Wood and Anna Singh (founder of Pout beauty), Chinti & Parker can arguably be credited with kick-starting the rise of the fashion knit. The British brand's playful cashmere jumpers are boldly spun with stars, neon stripes and zigzag intarsia designs, worn by a phalanx of A-listers including Gwyneth Paltrow, Sienna Millar and Malia Obama. The brand has expanded its repertoire to include slouchy cashmere joggers, fluid wool trousers and slinky rib-knit dresses in neutral colourways, as well as tactile accessories.

Madeleine Thompson

The Beethoven top and trousers, both £345

Madeleine Thompson’s trophy knits and cardigans look as much at home on the slopes as they do as in the city, designed with a distinctly retro sports-luxe vibe. Thompson, who splits her time between London and Hong Kong, cites Bridget Riley paintings, traditional Chinese silhouettes and American summer camps among her eclectic references and all of her cashmere creations are sustainably produced.

Last of England

Basket Weave knit in navy, £320
Fishermans Rib Jumper in camel, £320

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.

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. View the complete collection at Bella Freud's Chiltern Street boutique in Marylebone. 

49 Chiltern Street, Marylebone, London W1U 6LY,