Reviewed by Deborah Banasko
When it comes to buying clothes for my husband, we generally stick to the high street stores out of habit. With the lock-down this year I think people have become more open to widening their internet shopping options, and I personally am using online shops that I wouldn’t have looked at 6 months ago.
I was asked to review a 100% wool jumper from the company Glencroft, a 30 year old family firm who still work from a converted cow-barn in the Yorkshire Dales! There is something instantly appealing and trustworthy about a company with this foundation, and who doesn’t want to support a family business? They kindly sent me the Harris Tweed Patch Chunky British Wool Sweater in Navy (green is also available).
The company goal is to provide quality, responsibly sourced sheepskin and woollen goods. Buying their wool products also helps to support British farmers.
Their website is thankfully easy to navigate and well worth a look (I actually have my eye on one of the ladies jumpers) but they also have sheepskin rugs, a couple of children’s jumpers, handbags, scarves and slipper-type footwear.
When it comes to jumpers my husband does struggle to find something that fits him well, makes him look trim and that is also comfortable. From a “boring housewife” point of view I find that his woolly jumpers tend to look bobbly by the end of one season, possibly because they are not 100% wool at all. As a result he tends to live in hoodies or long sleeved shirts over winter; so he’s either warm and casual, or smart and a bit chilly.
Our initial impressions of this jumper were that it looked really smart, possibly to wear at a nice pub lunch or family get together. Yet it would also easily work for a muddy walk in the woods; a really versatile design to suit many occasions. The blue is a gorgeous deep navy and the knit demonstrates a real quality and care.
I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the tweed patches on the shoulders as I (perhaps a little ignorantly) associated tweed with being something that an older man would wear. Honestly as soon as my husband put it on I loved it, and I think he was a little surprised too at how good it looked.
To put some context to our opinion, I am 40 years old and he is 49 but I like to think we are pretty current with our fashion. This knit is so unusual; you won’t find this in a high street store and it absolutely does not look old fashioned, the complete opposite in fact. I think men of most ages could pull off this look.
In terms of the fit, my husband can struggle with jumpers. He is 5 foot 7 but very broad, and we often find that a large is a little snug but the extra large can be too long. We took a chance and ordered the large and it was perfect. He felt that it “held him in” (his words) but certainly didn’t feel tight or uncomfortable. Thankfully there was no “saggy middle” to the jumper which can often make his stomach appear larger than it is.
With the weather being so warm it’s difficult to make a judgement on how the jumper would fare on a cold winters day, but my husband felt that the thick, snug fit would keep the warmth in. It’s certainly very chunky and very comfortable and the kind of jumper you’d instantly reach for on a chilly day.
Something which always deters me from buying woollen products is, even jumpers which have a small percentage of wool, instantly have a hand-wash 30 degree label attached. This jumper is no different, but I have three children and don’t have time for physical hand-washing so it had to go on the washing machine hand-wash cycle. I did worry a little, as the label claims that this jumper would last years if looked after, and I didn’t want to destroy it on the first wash! It survived my machine hand-wash cycle really nicely, and looks exactly as it did pre-wash (phew).
It cannot be tumble dried and needs to be dried flat, again a little inconvenient but this isn’t a cheap £20 sweater so allowances can be made if a little care is needed, it just may sit in the laundry basket for a couple of days before I get around to washing it. This does tend to be the case with many jumpers nowadays, but it is worth mentioning.
The information sheet provided with the jumper was especially interesting, and claims that wool is more efficient than other textiles at absorbing sweat and releasing it into the air before bacteria develop and produce body odour, so in theory the hand-wash cycle should be sufficient to keep the jumper smelling clean and looking like new.
Apparently wool also retains dyes due to the absorbency of the fibres and remains colourfast, again adding to the longevity of the product. The waxy coat on the fibres makes them resistant to staining too so I am hoping the 30 degree wash will be enough in the long-term. I am starting to feel like a wool expert!
From an environmentally friendly viewpoint, the information sheet explains that wool has biodegradable properties, unlike the plastic, man-made and micro-fibres. Wool will decompose in a short time and release nutrients back into the soil which really appeals to me, and is not something that I have ever really considered before.
Normally my husband would spend perhaps £40-£50 on a jumper and expect it to be a little bobbly or out of shape by the end of the first season. Whilst this Glencroft jumper is double our usual spend, it isn’t intended to be a jumper that will last for just a couple of years. This is more of a winter wardrobe staple which I am hoping will work out better value for money in the long-term, but only time will tell. Plus you have the added warmth and insulation of the wool and the other benefits that wool brings, such as it’s elastic quality and ability to retain it’s shape without sagging.
This stylish jumper is an investment piece to last several winters, with a modern versatile design to suit many occasions and ages. Both my husband and I love it and are pleased to have a new addition to his winter wardrobe.
It would make a fantastic Christmas gift, but given the price point it would obviously be something that you’d give to someone extra special. I find men impossible to buy for, and this is a quality item for a man of any age. If your Husband, Brother or Father aren’t too keen on the traditional character-based Christmas jumpers, this could be a more flattering and fashionable compromise for the big day!
This product can be purchased from Glencroft here