The 50 Stages of Making Brora Cashmere

British Fashion Council

Traditional, handmade Scottish cashmere knitwear produced by mills with over 200 years of heritage.

BRORA CASHMERE
Brora is a Scottish company that specialises in making the finest quality cashmere knitwear. Brora works with mills throughout Scotland, some of them over 200 years old, to produce its luxury cashmere. These Mills use a manufacturing process that has more than 50 different stages. Every piece of Brora cashmere knitwear is created by hand. The craftsmen and women who work at Brora use skills that have been handed down over generations and which have been lost throughout much of the United Kingdom. Brora is passionate about supporting traditional Scottish craftsmanship. 

From untamed yarns to beautifully woven layers, over twenty years of expertise and skilled British production has made Brora synonymous with this luxurious commodity.

WHAT IS CASHMERE?

Cashmere wool comes from the cashmere goat and is finer & softer than sheep's wool. Cashmere wool has long been considered a luxury because it is stronger, lighter and warmer than regular sheep's wool. Also, because cashmere wool traditionally comes from central Asia and the north of the Indian subcontinent it was harder to source in large quantities in the past.

Cashmere goats are now raised in both Mongolia and China and their wool is produced in industrial quantities. Brora cashmere is ethically sourced from the native goat of the Mongolian plateaux.

However, due to the yields from the goat not being as great as that from sheep and the process to grade the hair being more extensive, it is still costly and cashmere's price remains high. The longer and finer the hair, the more expensive the fibre. At Brora only hairs that are a minimum of 34mm in length and a maximum thickness of 16.5 micron are chosen as these are the longest, finest and most expensive.

THE PRODUCTION PROCESS
The production process that Brora and its mills use to create its finished cashmere has more than 50 different individual elements. This production process includes dyeing, carding, teazing, spinning, twisting, and winding yarn through to weaving and finishing. Creating cashmere in this way is both highly specialised and time consuming. 

THE MILLS

The mills that make Brora's cashmere were established over 200 years ago and have been employing local Scottish families for generations. These mills dye, spin and weave the cashmere, as well as creating Brora's knitwear. Their other customers include the very best in the luxury world.

Sadly, many mills in Scotland have closed in recent years due to British brands moving their manufacturing abroad to increase profits. Brora is proud to support these traditional mills and, through them, their communities.

A short, animated film explains the Brora production process - from cashmere goat, all the way through to finished product.

SORTING THE WOOL

Once the raw cashmere wool arrives at a mill the first thing that will happen is it is sorted. Cashmere is sorted both by quality and colour: white, light grey, cream and brown.

This sorting is important for Brora because not only is the finest raw cashmere used but the colour of the raw cashmere is important because of the dying process later in production.

SCOURING

After sorting, the greasy fibre is scoured (washed) to remove the dirt, grease and any other impurities. After scouring, the washed cashmere is ready for dehairing.

DEHAIRING

The dehairing machines remove the coarse guard hair from the soft underdown as the co-mingled mass of fiber passes through a series of dehairing heads on the machine.

The design of the machine allows for the underdown to remain in and pass through the machine while the coarse hair is removed. This process leaves only the softest wool, ready for it to be combed, dyed and then spun into yarn.

DYING

Brora cashmere is dyed in a huge variety of different colours before the wool is dried and spun. Each final piece of Brora cashmere knitwear will contain at least 7 different colours of thread to give the richness and depth of colour that makes the knitwear so special.

CARDING AND TEASING

Once the cashmere wool has been combed one last time to remove all traces of the coarser guard hair it is ready to be carded and teased.

This delicate process blends the cashmere wool fibres and slowly teases them into the beginning of embryonic yarn ready to be spun into thread. This process takes a considerable amount of time but gives Brora cashmere its high finish and rich softness.

SPINNING

After the cashmere wool has been dyed, carded and teased it is finally ready to be spun into yarn.

A spinning wheel twists the cashmere fibres together so that they become finished yarn and are ready to be used to create Brora's cashmere knitwear.

Finished, dyed cashmere yarn ready to be knitted into Brora clothing.

KNITTING
Fundamental to Brora is the skill and attention to detail of the craftsmen and women who finish its cashmere knitwear by hand using skills passed down through generations of Scottish families. It is their expertise that ensures that every piece is made to the highest possible standard. Brora is particularly proud of its hand-knitters who knit for the brand in their homes all over Scotland. 

MADE BY HAND

Every piece of Brora knitwear is finished by hand, ensuring an attention to detail and level of care that is difficult to achieve.

This level of craftsmanship ensures that Brora knitwear is long lasting and hard wearing; meaning that it can be passed on and enjoyed by more than one generation.

TRADITIONAL STYLES FOR TODAY

Brora produces a series of Scottish traditional styles and patterns updated for today. They hand make Fair Isle and Aran sweaters, as well as knitwear inspired by all traditional knitting techniques, catwalk collections and the latest knitwear technologies.

Brora is not about fast fashion. We produce beautifully made, timeless pieces from the finest yarn that are made to last; we like the idea of buying less and making sure that what you do buy is very special. Brora should be passed on and enjoyed by more than one generation.

Victoria Stapleton, Founder & Creative Director, Brora.

Credits: Story

This exhibit was created by the British Fashion Council in collaboration with Brora Cashmere; in particular, Victoria Stapleton, Kajsa Bennett and Caroline Villa must be thanked for all of their help in creating this exhibit.

All rights belong to Brora Cashmere unless otherwise stated.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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