Allow us to reflect for a moment on Yeezy and his sweater. Before Kim, before the weird brooding, blade runner about to go exercise look, Mr. West appears to be happy. And it’s no wonder that he decided to don his own private knitted Scandinavia at that moment. Beyond the undeniable cozy, egg nog in a ski lodge, connotations there’s also something intrinsically rugged in a slightly oversized, tonal, piece of the north country like this (even if it happens to be in easter egg dye kit colors). Like the tweed blazer and tartan shirts, the graphic sweater (whether it be fair isle or intarsia) is one of those rare men’s wear staples that’s both natty and substantial. Now for the 5 brands with strong commitments to really getting it right this season.
Whether it be through his eponymous line or under the auspices of Gant, Mr. Bastian has gone on record for several seasons now as a generous contributor to the fair isle super pac. So much so that you may have to get your hands dirty in the resale market if you can’t live without his cardinals in thrall to a wintery overlord. In signature Bastian fashion, everything also seems so freshly scrubbed American even as Charlie Brown, french bulldogs, and the native american reservation system are all subversively sent up, albeit in wool/cashmere form.
For a company that created the post war American male uniform the Brooks dynasty has been looking a little too bloated in the middle and grey behind the ears to be truly relevant outside the country club bar for most of the last 2 decades. Now amends are being made however, as evidenced by these contributions to the fair isle pot. At best they tap into the Brooks’ heyday of the 50′s and 60′s as a purveyor of fine staples of the male wardrobe but update the fit for use outside gated communities in Flagstaff. At worst maybe they get a bit ahead of themselves with superfluous hoods just because someone once told them,” kids like hoods.”
Few companies have planted their stake deeper into shiftier soil that Missoni who has been sending their signature knitted versions of static down the runway for the last 50 years. You have to respect that kind of faith in what some would call a Cosby sweater. The more tonal offerings feel bold without risking seizures, but it’s still always impressive to see a gentleman peacock brazen enough to pull off the acid rain sunset over Milan version.
If your step father has any interest in ceramics or turquoise he probably owns all three of these sweaters. There’s also The Dude connection that’s worth noting. But there’s a good reason these sweaters bring all the bohemian gentlemen of leisure to the yard: they’re impressively well put together and warm as hell. Besides most of them are still being made in the USA using the same materials and custom designs that were rolled out over a century ago when the company sent its first blanket into the world.
With their first try at getting back into men’s wear this season the Franco-Japanese brand swings for the fences with these lighter weight sweaters that are just esoteric enough for Tokyo but certainly luxe enough for Paris. Clorblocking, exploded window pane and other linear patterns, and medallions all find their way into the line without any of it feeling too hysterical for use by humans. Ahem, KENZO, you offically have my attention.
Evan Widhu is a Men’s Wear Buyer in New York. He will admit to turning a Big Lebowski Halloween costume into part of his regular wardrobe rotation.