There are certain fabrics I’ve always associated with the upper echelon: intricate tweeds, delicate mulberry silks, and of course, cashmere. These materials are often pricy to purchase and they’ll also cost you a pretty penny to launder. As a result, in my mind, they’re considered “fancy” fabrics suitable only for special occasions. But little by little, one fabric in particular has crossed over from pretentious to essential, as cool girls everywhere are now embracing cashmere on a daily basis.
For years, I searched Upper East Side thrift shops for secondhand cashmere knits, hoping to find the cast-offs of an unintentionally-chic grandmother. But now, my favorite contemporary retailers are putting a focus on cashmere like never before, offering trendy knits that make the luxury fabric more enticing to embrace.
Perhaps the most obvious example of what I’m coining the Cashmere Comeback is the launch of Guest In Residence, a direct-to-consumer cashmere brand founded by model Gigi Hadid. Using vibrant hues, inclusive model casting, and trending knitwear silhouettes, Hadid has managed to rid the material of its stuffy associations.
All at once, a chic cashmere knit became the industry’s ‘it’ investment piece. Suddenly, every trendsetter in Manhattan was rocking Frame’s Ritz Paris collaboration (namely, the all-around-perfect cashmere crew neck described as a “French-girl silhouette often seen under the glass roof of the Bar Vendôme”). Can you blame me for wanting that Parisian aesthetic whilst taking my third subway ride of the day?
Of course, there are a bevy of cashmere brands that have been churning out impeccable product for years — and for the first time, their audiences are skewing younger. At first glance, labels like Falconeri might seem better suited to the coastal grandmother; however, a closer look reveals supremely soft Italian knits well-suited for the model-off-duty aesthetic.
Instagram-famous retailers are also taking note, amping up their own cashmere curations. Reformation and Everlane’s commitment to transparent, sustainable practices has resulted in exciting innovations that make the luxe fabric far more appealing to Gen Z’s eco-conscious shoppers.
Reformation’s 90/10 Cashmere collection consists of 90 percent post-industrial recycled cashmere, and the brand plants to eliminate all conventional cashmere from their offerings by 2023. Everlane’s ReCashmere blend features 94 percent recycled cashmere and 6 percent recycled wool, also reducing their environmental footprint.
Not only are these retailers creating more sustainable fabrics, they’re also utilizing their trendsetting abilities to produce silhouettes that go far beyond the granny cardigan. Think: Cashmere crop tops and two-piece sets, plus collared button-ups and knit midi dresses.
With temperatures cooling down and the Cashmere Comeback heating up, investing in a piece or two (or three, or four...) will add a little luxury to your everyday essentials. Below, a guide to the cashmere brands you need on your radar, plus the pieces to snag before they inevitably sell out.
Best Staples: Everlane
I’m all for a statement, but when building up the cashmere collection of your It Girl dreams, it’s essential to go back to basics. Everlane’s ReCashmere has the perfect lineup of recycled cashmere staples, including The ReCashmere Oversized Turtleneck. My top pick, this sweater features the perfect won’t-choke-you turtleneck and ribbed details on the hem and sleeves. If you can only invest in one cashmere sweater, consider this a solid option.
Best Branding: Guest In Residence
Gigi Hadid’s direct-to-consumer cashmere brand prioritizes heirloom quality, in hopes that shoppers will invest in pieces they’ll pass down to future generations. Still, there’s no shortage of trend-focused silhouettes and colorways, as evidenced by pieces like the punchy Shrunken Polo, a 100 percent cashmere lightweight waffle knit.
Best Outerwear: NAADAM
NAADAM claims to be “The World’s Fairest Cashmere,” sourcing directly from Mongolia’s Gobi Desert to cut out the middleman, benefitting both the herders and consumers. In addition to 100 percent cashmere, they also offer 70 percent recycled cashmere options, as well as reclaimed cashmere pieces created with scraps from their manufacturer. Their cashmere outerwear is especially notable — namely the Merino Cashmere Puffer Jacket, which is made with a wool and cashmere blend, adding luxury to a utilitarian silhouette.
Best Brights: Falconeri
Falconeri has become a quick favorite of mine in the cashmere space, due in part to their color selection. Pieces like the Ultrafine Cashmere Turtle-Neck boast the perfect marriage between classic cuts and trending hues, tempting me to buy a turtleneck in every color for a complete cashmere rainbow. Falconeri’s selection includes Ultrafine 2.50, a premium lightweight 100 percent cashmere, and Ultrasoft 2.28, an especially soft 100 percent cashmere with an almost velvety feel.
Best Selection: Reformation
Reformation’s aforementioned 90/10 Cashmere collection is impressive not only in its sustainability, but in its aesthetics. Pieces like the Fantino Cashmere Collared Cardigan stand out from the sea of staple sweaters (although they offer those, too), thanks to trending details like the collared neckline, thick ribbing, and button-up front. You know that white blouse you wore with absolutely everything last summer? Sub in this cozy pick for winter and thank me later.
Best Coastal Grandmother Starter Pack: Unsubscribed
With boutiques in New York, East Hampton, Westport, Greenwich, and Palm Beach, Unsubscribed is a favorite amongst the coastal grandmother set. It’s no surprise they have an excellent cashmere selection to consider. While I recommend the Cotton Cashmere Polo Sweater Dress, a 15 percent cashmere blend piece I wear regularly throughout the colder months, those seeking 100 percent cashmere should consider the Cashmere Hoodie. It offers a fresh take on luxe knitwear with a laid-back silhouette perfect for daily styling.
Best Joggers: FILORO
Along with cashmere hoodies, cashmere joggers are on the rise — think of a matching set as the perfect elevated airport ensemble. My pick is the Tamara Cashmere Joggers from FILORO, a Grade A cashmere-focused brand certified by the Sustainable Fiber Alliance. FILORO puts emphasis on cashmere’s reputation as “The Golden Yarn,” creating cozy pieces they describe as “cloud-like,” proving that luxury knitwear should feel, well, luxurious.
Best Ballerina Cardigan: Autumn Cashmere
During my Cashmere Comeback era, I’ve sought out a few specific silhouettes, including the perfect collared knit, a supremely slouchy turtleneck, and yes, a ballerina cardi. Fortunately, Autumn Cashmere’s Tie Front Rib Cardigan checked that final box with no hesitations. The loose, ribbed, 100 percent cashmere knit effortlessly nails that just-left-ballet-class feel, due to the tie-front detail. The cropped style is begging to be styled with a leotard and pointe shoes.
Best Stripes: La Ligne
La Ligne’s signature sweater, the Lean Lines Sweater, is a standout for a reason. The brand is one of the only cashmere labels that prioritizes stripes over solids, injecting a boost of fun into every design. The label was founded by former Vogue editors Valerie Macaulay and Meredith Melling, along with Molly Howard, rag & bone’s former head of business development. As a result, their offering is exceptionally chic, in addition to being made of delightfully soft cashmere.
Best Neutrals: Gobi Cashmere
When I picture the perfect half-zip knit, Gobi Cashmere’s Organic Color Zip Detailed Rib Polo comes to mind. Gobi specializes in 100 percent pure Mongolian cashmere, opting always to embrace untreated fibers over chemically-treated cashmere. As a result, you won’t find bold hues on the site, but the natural tones of their white, charcoal, beige, and blue-grey goats are just as stunning. GOBI is dedicated to transparency when it comes to ethical animal care, sourcing cashmere only from herders who hand-comb their goats.
Best Collaboration: Frame
The Ritz Women's Cashmere Sweater is one of the key pieces I credit for making cashmere a fashion girlie staple, once again. When Frame teamed up with the Ritz Paris, their goal was to release a range of elevated staples, so of course knitwear was top of mind. Leaning into the Ritz’s opulent aesthetics, the brands went with a 100 percent cashmere crew neck in three shades: navy, off-white, and bordeaux.
Best Sweater Dress: Aeron
I’ve recently developed a love/hate relationship with sweater dresses, as my go-to staple is being deemed more cheugy by the day. I’ve abandoned the silhouettes I once gravitated to in search of something more sleek. Though it’s well out of my price range, I’ve found love in Aeron’s Idaho Long Cashmere Dress. The bottleneck and loose sleeves take a streamline shape and give it intention. Plus, the 30 percent cashmere, 70 percent wool blend is warm enough to forgo tights on even the coldest winter day.