CART: 0

Guide to Luxury Fabrics

Over the years we have sought out many new fabrics for our customers, some of them luxurious, some of them practical, all of them beautiful. We select our fabrics for their performance, their look and the comfort they offer, but sometimes just because they are interesting, or they challenge the boundaries of what is possible in weaving and they offer a touch of luxury beyond the ordinary.

We have brought together some of the finest fabrics in the world, all of them tried and trusted by us and the customers who have enjoyed them. They all have something special to offer, be it fibre of great rarity, a supremely luxurious handle, a touch of real gold or a sumptuous colour. They are fabrics to be enjoyed, revelled in and to be proud of wearing and a small reward to ourselves for our intensive endeavours, long days and fully committed lives.

Luxury has many definitions; for some it is the ability to pause for a moment in a hectic life, for others it is escape to an unspoilt paradise, for us it is the knowledge that what we are wearing is the best it can possibly be; hand tailored from beautifully woven fabrics to the most exacting standards. True luxury is when the little voice in our heads says “this could not be any better”.

Vicuna & Guanaco

Vicuna and Guanaco are both members of the camelid family, Vicuna are relatives of the Llama and now thought to be the ancestor of the Alpaca; they are found in the high reaches of the Peruvian Andes, where they grow extremely fine, dense coats to protect them from the heat of the day and the freezing temperatures at night.

Although they were protected by law in Inca times and only Inca royalty could wear clothing made from Vicuna, they were hunted to near extinction by the 1960s, with only 6000 remaining. In 1974 a protection order banned modern hunting and the population has now recovered to some 350,000. They must be captured from the wild and their fine coat can only be shorn every three years, making the cloth expensive and unique.

Guanaco, their neighbours in the Andes, are also rare, with some 700,000 living wild. They are herd animals, with female and their young herding in one group with a dominant male and other males living as a herd. They can run at 35 miles per hour across rocky terrain and can live to 25 years old. The wool spun from their double layered pelt provides amongst the softest and most luxurious of all cloths, considered second only to vicuna. Extremely warm, whilst light in weight, it makes glorious jackets, blazers, topcoats and suitings. As long standing customers will know, some years ago we obtained very limited lengths of this most luxurious cloth and matched it with solid gold and platinum buttons. It was an incredible success.

Cashmere

The word cashmere is an old spelling of Kashmir, the disputed region on the borders of India and Pakistan. The ‘wool’ is shorn from mountain goats, living in mountainous environments in Mongolia and the Himalayan and Tibetan regions. Although it is referred to as wool, their hair is much finer, lighter, stronger and softer than sheep’s wool and three times as insulating. A much abused term, by US law, Cashmere must contain only hair from the cashmere goat, the average diameter of which should not exceed 19 microns. We obtain certificated cashmere that meets not only the expectations on origin, but also on comfort.

Cashmere Doeskins

Cashmere is luxuriously soft and light to wear and we know that our customers love the warmth and comfort. We have many variations of fabric in this wonderful fibre, but here we have chosen a range of doeskins in a spectrum of hues and colours. The rich pile of doeskin makes a glorious blazer, sports coat or lightweight topcoat. These exciting patterns and colourations make for perfect cashmere sports coats, a permanent customer favourite. Made in different weights they are ideal for all climates.

Escorial

The Escorial is a luxury wool from the Mahgreb sheep, a rare breed with a unique coat. Originating in North Africa they were introduced to Spain in the 16th century by Moorish invaders and took their name from the royal palace at El Escorial. The cloth, favoured by Spanish nobility became famous and Charles III of Spain gave a gift of several sheep to his cousin Xavier the Elector of Saxon in Germany, which was fortunate, as the the Spanish flocks were all killed during the Napoleonic wars.

The German flock survived and in the 19th century, Eliza Furlonge took just a hundred to Australia where they flourished and were exported as breeding stock to New Zealand. The breeding line has been controlled and refined to produce a wool that possesses the same luxuriously soft handle as good cashmeres, but has a springiness; rather than straight light fibres, these resemble a coiled spring, which makes the cloth warm, but also robust enough for a beautiful suiting or sports coat cloth, combining luxury with performance.

Shown above – The Escorial for Suits. A small selection from the beautiful range of suit fabrics.

Shown below – The Escorial for Sports Coats. A small selection from the sophisticated sports coat range.

 

Wool Worsteds

The cloth we use for most of the suits we make is worsted and you will all be very familiar with the name, taken from the Norfolk village of Worstead, which in the 12th century was a centre of wool yarn and cloth production. Although both are made from sheeps wool, worsted is stronger, finer, smoother, and harder than the standard ‘woollen’ yarn used for knitted garments. Traditionally made from lang-stapled wools from old breeds such as Teeswaters and Romney Marsh, the wool for worsteds is washed, gilled and combed before oiling and spinning rather than carded.

Our worsteds are made from merino wool from sheep predominantly bred in Australia and New Zealand by the leading quality producers; the exceptional quality of the wool is known worldwide and occasionally makes headlines when a record breaking bale is produced. Worsted yarn is graded by its fineness, known in the trade as ‘count’, which ranges from 50s, to regularly used 70s to 80s, which offer durability combined with a good handle, through the mid 100s of great quality, to the Super 200s, a cloth of exceptional handle, comfort and fineness.

It is only the advanced technology in the spinning and weaving industries that means we can now obtain extraordinarily fine qualities in the 150s to 200s range, bringing a level of luxury that is unparalleled. The high count qualities are soft to the touch and a delight to wear and we have put together a collection of the best of these gorgeous cloths, (known somewhat strangely as ‘stuff’) for your delectation. They work well as a suit, blazer, sports coat or trousers, but made from any of these incredible collection of fabrics we have assembled, they attain a level of luxury not attainable elsewhere.

Lumb’s Golden Bale

An excellent example of luxury yarn is Lumb’s Golden Bale. For over a century Lumb’s buyers have visited the Australian wool auctions searching for bales of extra fine merino wool of exceptional quality. Each year the best fleeces from Merino sheep are spun into a fine thread very high quality. A small group of weavers are selected to make cloths woven from these outstanding yarns and we have worked with one such mill to bring you these exceptional fabrics.

Despite many mills laying claim to making the finest ‘100s’ cloths, the combination of Lumb’s selective buying coupled with hand sorting of the wools and an expertise in processing acquired over many generations in converting wool into yarn and cloth, ensures that the fabric continues to be the most luxurious. The very finest quality wools are named “Lumb’s Golden Bale”, with no reference to 100s or other numericals, they are simply the best that are made. We are delighted to bring you a range of fine suitings, selected carefully by us to offer performance as well as beauty.