Cool, contemporary cashmere: Fresh and bright loungewear classics
Softly, softly ‘trans-seasonal’ approach you can wear all the way from plane to pool
“I stay away from black. If you want a plain black cashmere sweater, you can get it in Marks & Spencer.” So says Lucy Nagle, who from small beginnings three years ago has built up a reputation for cool, contemporary cashmere sweaters and accessories.
A former interior designer who came home to Dublin from London during the recession, she turned to knitwear as an alternative career. “What I loved most about interior design was choosing colours, textures and fabrics, and a love of fashion made knitwear an obvious choice,” she says.
Research took her to cashmere trade fairs in Hong Kong, inner Mongolia to find the right factories, and Frankfurt to find agents that liaise between the knitters and Nagle’s designs.
Lacking formal design training, she started with things she liked to wear herself, concentrating on the sort of cut, shape, neckline and details that mattered and that were “a lot more commercial, more everyday and not works of art”. She quickly worked out what customers wanted.
Her big break, on the basis of showing her first three styles, was being invited to be part of design show Create in Brown Thomas in 2013, and she has not looked back since. Her most popular items are her hoodies and cardigans, which come in new shades each season. One of her biggest surprises was finding that older women around the country – 95 per cent of her customers are Irish – are her biggest fans, many being repeat buyers who are willing to pay for comfortable, stylish casuals.
Her new collection was deliberately photographed with swimwear because cashmere, she says, is trans-seasonal and so light that “you take it with you on a sun holiday”. Colours are fresh and bright. A newly introduced waffle stitch lifts an otherwise plain sky blue, boxy, round-neck sweater. The collection now comprises 15 styles and some items such as plain vee- or round-neck sweaters and little cardigans come in fine merino.
Website sales have tripled since last year thanks to social media engagement and she now has customers in the US and the UK, including Selfridges in London. As loungewear becomes an increasingly popular trend, future plans for this busy mother of two involve broadening her collection to include quality T-shirts to layer under cashmere. In the meantime, there are still some sale items from her autumn winter collection available, from €95.
Lucy Nagle’s knits can be found in Brown Thomas and online at lucynagle.com.
Where to find more cashmere
Perfect for winter and summer, cashmere is cool in every sense. Below is a guide to other specialist sources and brands in Ireland.
MARKS & SPENCER
The high street favourite offers the most affordable cashmere, with prices starting at €99 for a jumper, hoodies for €160, cardigans at €195 and €160 tunics.
Jacobs’s fine, striped knits and desirable embellished scarves are ethically made in Nepal. She sells online and has occasional sales and pop-up shops, details can be found on her website. sianjacobs.com
SPHERE ONE by Lucy Downes
One of Ireland’s premier knitwear labels, Sphere One yarns come from Todd & Duncan in Scotland and the knitwear, made in Nepal, has an international fan base. In Ireland find Sphere One in Brown Thomas and Havana in Donnybrook.sphereone.ie
Keogh is Ireland’s undisputed cashmere queen whose Irish-made knits sell in top stores in the US and Europe and are designed in her Wicklow studio at Uplands, Annamoe, Co Wicklow. She occasionally hosts private sales in Dublin. laineykeogh.com
The Aran island’s cashmere mix knitwear for men is world famous and also sold online. Previous season’s collections can be found at reduced prices in their stylish shop on the island. inismeain.ie
Madigan ships her wraps, scarves and capes all over the world from her base in Naas, Co Kildare and has just opened a shop selling her knits in the Westbury mall in Dublin. elainemadigancashmere.com
Chambers is a recent arrival whose block coloured cashmere cardigans, sweaters and scarves are colourful, youthful and modern. From €95 for scarves and €195 for cardigans. laura-chambers.com