People often harbour the misconception that cashmere, being the warmest fibre, is simply the go-to material for getting snuggly in the winter, and nothing more. They often forget that – as well as being brilliantly cosy and all enveloping – cashmere is also the lightest, softest, probably thinnest and almost certainly the most breathable woollen fibre, which, when finely spun, can make for the perfect summer piece. And while there are now endless cashmere options that run the gamut from high street to luxury, we prefer something right in the middle, like contemporary brand Madeleine Thompson (stocked at Rue Madame) which offers beautiful quality pieces in contemporary designs.
I spoke with Thompson for a quick-fire conversation on what role the luxurious fabric plays in fashion today and how best to style-up your favourite cashmere pieces.
Cashmere athleisure has seen a huge resurgence. How do you design across categories (outerwear, accessories, jumpers, bottoms etc) when you approach a collection?
I like to think of my collections as a whole story; you can mix and match most styles and create your own look. Athleisure is certainly a huge market right now, which is exciting as I think cashmere fits in this genre perfectly.
There’s been an incredible surge in demand for cashmere garments. Why do you think that is?
I think people realise how wonderful cashmere is and once they start wearing it, it’s incredibly hard to go back! So, demand is much more than it used to be.
With high street purveyors like Uniqlo getting in on the action and selling cashmere, how do independent cashmere brands like yourself differentiate from the mass market?
I think it’s all about quality, quality, quality. We pride ourselves on top quality yarn and well-cut shapes. I can’t control what everyone else is doing but I can produce the best possible garment and clothes that I can be proud of.
What are your tips on buying great cashmere?
There are a few tips. First, check the label. Only pure 100% cashmere can be labeled as such. Also, a tighter knit means better quality and durability. Finally, buy from brands you know and from stores you trust.
You’re known for colourful cashmere. What drew you towards that when traditional cashmere is quite plain?
I have really tried to push the boundaries of what is possible and expected with cashmere. The colours, patterns and cut of my pieces feel very fresh for knitwear and on trend with fashion at large.
What are your SS18 design inspirations?
I have been super-inspired by retro après ski and also that ’70s Californian skater vibe. We have continued the rainbow in a more delicate incarnation for spring/summer.
WHAT TO WEAR AND WHERE TO GO
Chic lunch dates
Days in the office
Travel in style
Out for dinner