January might have its downsides – it’s cold and gloomy outside, days are shorter and the celebrations and family time of Christmas have been and gone.
But it’s also a month of new beginnings, plans for the new year and, as for the weather – who doesn’t love to snuggle up in a soft beautiful knit-jumper?
We so enjoy wrapping up warm in a quality piece of knitwear of our favourite ethical clothing brands. Not only does it feel amazing to the touch. By bearing a few simple things in mind, it can also last for many years and therefore help you have a positive environmental impact with your wardrobe.
Choose well – how to spot high quality knitwear
To make sure your jumper will stay soft and beautiful for a long time, is good value for money and will not shed microplastics in the wash, you’ll want to make sure it is made of all natural materials.
100% wool jumpers look luxurious and are beautiful to the touch. If you prefer your knitwear vegan, organic cotton knits are a perfect alternative. Unfortunately, on the high street these materials are mixed with cheap synthetics to lower the cost more often than you might expect.
At the time of writing a range of popular brands carried some knitwear priced in excess of £100 that contained low cost acrylic or polyester including Maje, Cos, Karen Millen, Jigsaw and Whistles.
We are not saying we have never fallen in love with a jumper made of a wool-synthetic blend. And it is a personal choice how much you would like to or are able to invest in a jumper. What we are saying is that if you are paying a premium price, you deserve to get a premium fibre.
Check the label for the fabric composition to ensure that you are not being overcharged for a lower quality. Even when shopping online this is easy. The majority of stores include details on fabrics in their product descriptions, so you are able to make an informed decision.
Which type of knit is bestOrganic cotton knits, unless they are really thick, like one of our favourites Angela, are good for moderately cold weather or when you spend a lot of time in well-heated spaces.
If you like it warm you’ll also want to make sure you have full length sleeves – ¾ length sleeve jumpers are better if you are not usually very cold or in the spring.
Why 100% natural knitwear is better
Man-made fibres do have a place in clothing, for example in tights. Our Swedish Stockings are made of recycled nylon. Where our garments are made of synthetic, we make sure it is a high quality recycled one. Read more about our fabric standards here.
But synthetic fibres do absorb odours. Research has found that synthetic fibres retain natural oils that cause unpleasant smells.
Cotton, for example, does not retain these oils. Even better, wool actually has self cleaning properties, and while it blocks out external moisture, it wicks perspiration away from your body. So you are able to wear your favourite knit jumper many times before you have to wash it. We find that airing a jumper out after each wear, preferably outside if you are able to, completely freshens it up.
Apart from breathability, the polyester in our clothing is highly flammable. (Alex James’ documentary Slowing Down Fast Fashion has an eye-opening demonstration of how quickly a synthetic jumper will go up in flames). So do check the label of your favourite jumper – if it contains polyester or acrylic, better step away from the candles.
High quality knitwear, if well-looked after, can look great for a decade. But it is also worth sparing a thought for what happens after. Wool and organic cotton are fully biodegradable. Acrylic, being petroleum-based, is not. This means that once your jumper eventually, at the end of a hopefully long life, ends up in landfill, natural materials will break down. Any synthetic fibres will stay, because they are essentially plastic.
Caring for your favourite knits
Don’t overwash. As mentioned high quality garments do not need to be washed overly frequently. Airing it out is often genuinely enough to freshen it up - if you are able to on a balcony or in the garden.
And not only do we love it because it means less time spent doing the laundry or going to the drycleaners. Analysis by Wrap, the research organisation, estimates that washing accounts for around a quarter of the overall carbon footprint of our clothing.
Fold it. Wool does not like to be hung on a hanger, so it is better to fold it so it keeps its shape. It is also a great way to save space, as you’ll use your storage space more effectively. Plus, folded jumpers are more easily organised by colour and thickness, if you like your wardrobe really neat.
Mend it. Quality knitwear is worth mending or having mended if it has a small rip or hole. Provided you have basic sewing skills and kit this is easily done at home for cotton knits. With finer wools we recommend erring on the side of caution and asking a tailor. High quality wool is a beautiful every day luxury and deserves a bit of extra care.
Brush it. If you start seeing pilling, tiny balls of fabric, on wool jumpers you can gently brush it with a sweater stone. They can be easily found online and help your garments look like new. Electric wool shavers are also an option.
All our knitwear can be found here.
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