â€œScotland: The land of a thousand knitters. Or at least, we used to be.â€
It might not be the most appealing tourism slogan, but the truth rarely is. With cheaper prices and shorter lead-times lying further to the East, countless brands have exported their knitwear production to Asia, leaving many Scottish factories without enough orders to stay afloat. The knitwear industry reaches back to the late 1700’s, when the first framing guides arrived in Scotland allowing craftspeople to churn out their fine knits at a faster pace. Scotland once had over two thousand knitwear manufacturers, today that figure is closer to a couple hundred, if that.
What makes this story all the more depressing is that these â€œcompaniesâ€ were often little more than small-town cottage affairs. Local economies have suffered, artisans have been forgotten, and a once proud craft has been shrunken down to a novelty. Sadly, with a greater global focus on high-quality menswear, the demand for Scottish knits is higher than ever. Those manufacturers that have endured, have done so because they’ve been able to adapt to the demands of the contemporary, worldwide market. The field is certainly smaller now but it’s more innovative than ever, and so here are our five Scottish knitwear brands to know. For now and (hopefully) for the next hundred plus years to come.