It’s no secret by now that I have a deep admiration for Private White VC and what James Eden and his team have built in recent years. They epitomise so much about what I look for in a brand – authenticity, quality, craftsmanship and timeless style. They’re also thoroughly decent people who care deeply about the products they make and that alone deserves to be supported.
Menswear is moving towards an increasingly informal dress code, brought about by a cultural shift that’s seen fewer suits and ties in most workplaces, which has been rapidly accelerated by Covid. Brands like Private White VC will only become more appealing and relevant to men who want to dress well, pay for and invest in quality, but don’t need every second piece of clothing to be a hand-made suit.
I already own a Private White VC field jacket, which has become my go-to cold weather jacket to layer on top of knitwear. Last year I also purchased a linen field jacket and a navy safari jacket, both great for summer to throw over a t-shirt or long-sleeve polo, with jeans and loafers.
If I have one love that’s equal to tailoring, it’s knitwear. It’s a topic I’ve been obsessed with for years (we’re manufacturing our first collection of knitwear this year) and I’d been keen to try the cashmere knitwear from Private White for a while.
I looked through my wardrobe and I own pieces of cashmere knitwear from 7 other quality brands, and all are made in either Italy or Scotland. I also have 1 piece from Uniqlo (to find out what kind of cashmere you get for $100 – not much).
The immediate takeaway was that this piece from Private White was extremely soft. Fractionally softer than my roll-neck from Colhays (Private White’s cashmere is made by Johnston’s of Elgin in Scotland – article on my factory visit to Johnston’s can be found here. Colhay’s use a small family-owned manufacturer in Hawick (not far from Johnston’s) but not so different that it should influence a buying decision as they’re both extremely good products and the difference was neglegable. Having compared it to all of my other pieces of cashmere, this piece from Private White is the softest I own.
I’ve worn it frequently for several months and am yet to experience any pilling worth noting, so I’m confident that this will be yet another Private White investment piece that will last decades if I look after it carefully.
The cut is fairly contemporary, reasonably fitted through the sleeves, not fitted through the body, but not baggy, either. If it was up to me, I’d have chosen a more slim fit through the body, but this is personal preference and most customers would probably prefer Private White’s pattern. Knitwear is so easily taken in that it’s no trouble to bring in the side seams to achieve an ideal fit. If it was too slim from the factory then you’d have nowhere to go if you wanted to let it out, leaving you stuck with a tight piece of knitwear you may not wear.
I sized down for this piece, being a size 3 in most of my jackets from Private White (strangely, my winter field jacket is a size 2 and fits perfectly) so this jumper is a size 2 which is the smallest size they offer. I felt comfortable leaning towards the smaller size for knitwear as it has plenty of stretch, whereas tailoring is more rigid and you’re better off taking something in a little, than having to open up the seams to let it out.
I love ribbed knits as the added texture gained from the highs and lows of the ridges makes the knit less formal. Given that this sweater will spend most of its life being worn with boots, well-faded denim and/or a winter jacket, that texture is welcome.
For those not familiar with knitwear terminology, this piece is made from 2 ends of 2/28’s, which is the sweater you want on a cold day. It’s reasonably chunky and has a good deal of body. It’s too thick to wear under tailoring (for that, you want something closer to 2/40’s or 2/60’s which is more refined to better suit tailoring, but won’t be nearly as thick and warm). It’s a piece to wear with outerwear and the day these images were taken was the real-world scenario that suits a piece like this perfectly – a cold morning, outdoors, playing with my boys.
This is a proper cold weather head down to the park with the kids/outside at the pub on a weekend/relaxing by the fire piece of knitwear.
This style of clothing is something which Private White VC do so well. Exceptionally well made products, often a little rugged, the details obsessed over, made to be worn and lived in by people who go outside and do things.