Best of the Best: Sportswear
Brunello Cucinelli cashmere stadium jacket, $1,755, cashmere argyle vest, $710, cotton knit shirt, $255, and cotton drill trousers, $495.
Casual does not have to mean compromise.
It literally takes a village to create Brunello Cucinelli’s sporty cashmere knits and impressively detailed collection of sportswear. Cucinelli employs nearly the entire adult population of Solomeo, an Italian village of craftsmen who turn out plush cashmere pea coats, quilted fisherman vests, suede stadium jackets, and slim-cut equestrian-inspired trousers for only the most sophisticated armchair sportsmen.
Avon Celli spins its own yarn, which enables the brand to concoct new and intriguing combinations and textures. Its latest innovations include a pima cotton that looks like a bouclé and a superlightweight cotton/cashmere blend woven on 36-gauge machines once used for women’s hosiery. Other notable novelties this year include vintage micro-jacquard polos, linen knit tennis sweaters with Johnny collars, and zippered linen jackets with linen/cotton knit sleeves.
The craftsmen who labor at Industrie Confezioni Tessili, the Venice, Italy, factory that manufactures Incotex pants, view every pair of trousers they produce as a piece of architecture. They work and rework the fit and details—from finished inside pockets to extended interior fly flaps—until they are just right. This year, Incotex’s new Incochino and washed Chino Lino collections added sophisticated fashion flair to the brand’s more classic leanings.
Loro Piana cashmere Icer coat, $3,695 (with detachable shirred mink lining, $8,500, sold separately); Avon Celli cashmere cardigan, $1,450; Incotex cotton/cashmere corduroy slacks, $595.
Loro Piana’s patented Storm System makes fibers such as cotton, wool, and even cashmere impervious to water. Most outerwear brands employ Storm System technology. However, Loro Piana alone has applied this breakthrough technology to new materials, such as combed cashmere combined with microfiber and yarn-dyed mélange linen (typically used for shirts), to create comfortable, lightweight outerwear that is as luxurious as it is functional.
Ferragamo suede jean jacket, $1,200, and striped cotton jeans, $165; Fairway & Greene baby alpaca sweater, $140, and striped pima cotton shirt, $85.
For the past few years, Salvatore Ferragamo has been quietly producing sleek, elegant sportswear that is as beautifully executed as its finest shoes. This year, the designer brand drew on its experience with leather, unveiling a slick collection of detailed outerwear. It also sank any preconceived notion about nautical wear’s being stodgy, with clever suede jackets and striped, banded-collar shirts any fashionable yachtsman would covet.
A double-mercerized cotton treatment to stabilize the fabric and retain color vibrancy is just one of many manufacturing details that give Fairway & Greene its distinct advantage. The shirts’ thick, two-ply yarns also absorb perspiration better than higher-thread-count cotton.
Fairway & Greene