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Summer Cardigans …


But does the Indian knitting industry lack awareness?


Evolving from sweaters,

traditionally worn to keep users warm during the cold season

is a new and raging category popularly known as the “Summer Cardigan”.

Becoming the most beloved and universal outerwear

for the breezy summer season, in thin and comfortable fabrics,

essentially in cotton flat knits, summer cardigans are a recent entry

on the fashion racks of every possible international retailer,

pushing the trend of layering all around the year even further.

And even though consumers all over the world

seem to have accepted the trend with great excitement,

creating market opportunities for flat knitwear manufacturers,

Indian exporters in sweaters are not yet clued into the trend.

Talking to many players across India and in Ludhiana,

which is the hub for flat knits, in particular,

Team AO discovers that India seems to be missing out on this upcoming product category…

The Trend…

The concept of summer cardigan was first mooted in the year 2007, as a solution to the increasing problem of varying temperatures faced by many in Western countries with warm afternoons and cooler evenings, as also intense heat when on the road and cool air conditioners in offices, supermarkets and malls. 2008 onwards saw many leading brands introduce the category… Mango and Vera Wang designer label incorporated a strong influence of summer cardigans in their spring/summer collection 2008. GAP also incorporated cropped summer cardigans with three button opening in their collections of 2008. In 2009, Marc Jacobs’ summer collection also incorporated the summer while TSE the high fashion brand had an elongated summer cardigan on their runway as one of the most appreciated pieces of the season.

With a strong ongoing trend of shrugs, boleros,

throws and summer jackets for the past three to four years

it’s not hard to understand the

widespread popularity of summer cardigans

which might be a trend evolution

of these styles put together as well.

Yet another significant factor

contributing to the attractiveness of the trend

is the rise in the demand of the knits

as a versatile fabric choice when the world

recognized its flexibility in textile and garment construction.

With the ease of being worn anytime during the day, summer cardigans are designed to layer without adding bulk and unnecessary warmth to any summer garment. In short sleeves, three-quarter sleeves, and even in long sleeves when made out of the right fabric, it can be paired with formal trousers, casual shorts and capris to chic dresses, suiting all personalities and events – day or night. Where on one hand cropped version in shorter lengths are perfect to complement pretty summer dresses, fitted designs prove to be perfect options to complement smart trousers and formal office attire.

Interpreted in various looks, styles and lengths, the catwalks of Spring/Summer 2011 have taken the trend to another level with flashes of the same being observed yet again in the ongoing fashion weeks for the 2012 summer season. Amongst a lot of innovations the most recognized and safest style of the summer cardigan is in solid shades of bright colours and bold patterns that can instantly perk up the overall appeal of any basic outfit paired with, expressed prominently in, collections of designers like A Detacher, Christopher Kane and Rochas. Another look of the same is in the form of a ladylike cardigan that appears to be flirty and feminine presented through the collections of Z Spoke by Zac Posen, Oscar de la Renta, L’Wren Scott as well as Alberta Ferretti. Last but not the least, also picking up is the boho chic style which is less fitted, loose and in asymmetric hemlines well portrayed through collections of Michael Kors, Rag & Bone, Nicholas K as well as Matthew Amesin made in different fabrics selections varying from cotton to laces and crochets.

Not only designers but brands like Vero Moda consists of summer cardigans made out of lightweight knits having 3/4th rollover and full sleeves in colour palettes of neutrals, grey and black summed up with belts giving the body a flattering “X” shape. Mango’s collection of summer cardigans include a utilitarian and minimalist chic look consisting of solid colours, bold coloured stripes and rolled up sleeves, whereas the pieces in the summer collection of Zara reflect maximum comfort and sophistication through perfect cuts, trendy colours and daring combinations of a lighter palette in cardigans paired with bold coloured basic silhouettes. Brands like forever 21 have launched collections which have long, bright and printed cardigans and Forever New has pieces which are 70’s inspired showcasing a soft palate of 3/4th sleeves. Other brands with different variations of lengths, sleeves, prints and solids are Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Banana Republic and Calvin Klein.

The most interesting take on the whole trend is the fact that the look is not only for women, but is rather unisex, making its way to the male wardrobe as well. One of the most popular types of the summer cardigans for men is in the form of the classic nautical look. Most of the available versions at the moment are in navy blue or white, with horizontal stripes. The classic brand for nautical summer sweaters is Saint James, France’s official manufacturers of the nautical sweater, along with other famous names like American Eagle which has pieces of an excellent nautical summer sweater in a print and fabric not much different from the kind that are sold by Saint James. Ranging from anything between $ 50 and $ 150, other brands like Trussardi, H&M and J. Crew also have their own ranges of variations in this classic style for men.

India lacks awareness and capability to manufacture summer cardigans…

Where on one hand the trend is being globally recognized as a new product category altogether giving a boom to the flat knit industry at large, realizing the fact that summer cardigans are the easiest and profitable product expansion for any existing knit manufacturers who already deal with an existing setup for winter cardigans and sweaters, when Team AO went out to find about the popularity of this thought amongst Indian exporters and manufacturers, they however received a rather disappointing reaction from most of the players working in this industry…



Indrani, Knitwear Designer, Celebrity Fashions, Chennai

Summer cardigan is undoubtedly an upcoming trend in the foreign countries, due to the climatic conditions where the evenings are a little colder than the days. SinceIndiadoes not have such a climate, Indians in the first instant relate this trend to winters and are not able to understand it completely till now. Observing that this trend will be at its peak in 2013, Indian designers and manufacturers might understand the concept of layering with a summer cardigan better then. We, as a company, do a lot of flat knit pieces including polos, but we still haven’t received any inquiries about the cardigan till now. If such cardigans are being produced right now, then they can only be produced inLudhianaorChina.


Gurdip Singh, Elson Hosiery Mills, Ludhiana

We are indeed aware of the growing summer cardigan trend as we have been already receiving a lot of inquiries fromUKbuyers. But as we cater to winter wear clients, our company manufactures jackets and pullovers made of wool for which orders keep pouring in the entire year from different parts of the world depending upon their respective seasons, except for February and March, as both of these months are utilized by our product development team for research, sourcing and sampling.  Therefore due to lesser capacities for production and the absence of viability of time, we are not taking any orders at the moment. But on the other hand realizing the pace at which the trend is picking up globally, we will definitely consider manufacturing it once our capacity increases.


Suresh Aggarwal, Bengal Knitwear, Ludhiana

We have recently received a few enquiries for the production of the summer cardigan, but we haven’t accepted any of them. As per our experience the cotton yarn which is essential in the making of a summer cardigan spoils the needles and the latch of our machines which costs approximately Rs. 3 lakhs for repair. The cotton yarn needs to be mercerized first before being used otherwise it tends to strain the needles. According to our knowledge such garments may be made in some export houses, but 90-95% of the people manufacturing inIndiado not make it. Also, even if we take all the necessary precautions, there will be no returns till we receive bulk orders to produce the summer cardigan.


Subhash Bhalla, M.R. Bhalla Hosiery, Ludhiana

We are currently unaware of this particular trend. Although I have seen it in the movies and on the international runways, we have received no such inquiries about its production. Although I personally believe that the concept of a summer outerwear is good as a profitable expansion for us, still our decision for its production will depend on the yarn availability, the time, details and the money involved. A lot of things will be clear further once we look at some samples of the same.


Vijander Mohan Jain, V.P. Oswal Hosiery Factory, Ludhiana

Dealing in woollen knits for companies like Reliance and Pantaloons, we hardly have any time to focus on summer wear. Although I have spotted people wearing summer cardigans with high-fashion garments, but have never paid attention to who is making it. Since it is made on the same machine as the woolen cardigans, these must be produced in Ludhiana itself.


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