A hand-knitted sweater is a peculiarly beautiful thing. It has a softness and stretch that can never be replicated in a machine-knit garment, and small variations in the texture that make it feel both organic and personal.
I have several hand-knitted pieces I’ve accumulated over the years. There’s a black crewneck from Ralph Lauren Purple Label that has done good service, and an Aran sweater that feels like it could easily deal with the rigours of a life at sea, such is its rugged thickness.
But such hand-knitted pieces are not easy to find. There just aren’t many out there, even from high-end labels - and when you do find one, it’s often extortionately expensive. This is partly because hand-knitting can’t be scaled. Many processes for clothing can be made more efficiently at scale – even a lot of tailoring, outside of bespoke. But true hand-knitting – as in, one person sitting in a chair with a couple of knitting needles – cannot.
Costs aside, though, it’s not that difficult to do, and hand-knitting has been building in popularity for some time. So it’s perhaps not surprising that someone has set up an outfit hand-knitting bespoke sweaters: Matteo Luchini, in Florence. Luchini is a fabric agent and has an office in the city. It’s the family business: his father was an agent, and his grandfather before him. But his mother is a knitter.
She has always knitted clothes, and Matteo thought that there was a gap in the market for hand-knitted, made-to-measure knitwear. So he started a shop in the same space as the office, and gave the label his mother’s name: Licia Luchini.
The business has been going for only a couple of years, and is run in parallel to Matteo’s agency work. Alongside some ready-to-wear items (from €130 for a hat), knitwear is offered to a customer’s measurements, in any design and in a choice of yarns: Shetland, merino, cashmere and cashmere/silk, with the cashmere coming from Zegna Baruffa. Delivery is four to six weeks, with prices ranging from €450 to €1,450 depending on the fibre and complexity of the design.
It’s early days for the company, but in an age that privileges quality and authenticity, it doesn’t get much better than Licia Luchini.
Simon Crompton is an author and journalist, and the founder of a leading website on luxury and bespoke menswear, PermanentStyle.com, which receives over a million visitors every year. He is the author of several books, including The Finest Menswear in the World (Thames & Hudson). @permanentstylelondon