With big innovation happening in yarn technologies and the British weather forecast that is forever in flux, the idea of wearing knits during the summer is no longer so foreign. In order to discover who, what and how we should “do” summer knits, we decided to talk to three knitwear brands that are doing interesting things with their fair-weather collections.

The Elder Statesman, USA

Hand-made, yet high-tech. The California-based, CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund-winning brand The Elder Statesman tackles knitwear in a way that the designer and founder Greg Chait describes as a “dreamer wanting to work with dreamers”. His knitwear opposes the mass-made and the automated, with a very community-oriented approach to production. Without the fanfare of fashion press, The Elder Statesman has developed into a sustainable, responsible way, with a factory in Culver City, California, and a recently opened store in Brentwood, Los Angeles. And the product is key: high-end luxury wardrobe essentials that come in all shapes, colours and sizes (from baby to adult).

But when it comes to wearing those colourful knits on the beach, Chait says “Cashmere is an ideal fiber even for the warmer months, especially in the Southern Californian climate which is quite arid and near the sea, so even in high summer the temperature point where cashmere can be worn with comfort.” But there is a limit as to how cool the playful Baja jumpers and woven colour-blocking cardigans of The Elder Statesman can keep us. Chait warns: “Once the temperature gets above about 25°C and the humidity rises, cashmere is off the table!” Wear the hand-painted palm jumper with a pair of denim shorts and bare feet for a cool summer-evening look.

Shop The Elder Statesman from Net-a-porter

Plys, Germany

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Korean-born Joon Lee and his Berlin-based brand Plys. The hi-tech disco knitwear machine is made out of fluorescent fine merino yarns and pays tribute to the ubiquitous safety vests worn by construction workers around the world. While starting his company in the German capital, Lee got the inspiration from the city’s dual obsessions: monochrome and cycling. “It’s so rare to see someone wearing colours in Berlin, yet people still wear neon bits when cycling,” he says, stating that a colour scheme is the starting point and the most important factor for his collections. And those cyclist uniforms were on the moodboard for Plys’ debut collection with colourful, knitted jogging bottoms, graphic T-shirts and colour-blocked, slim-fit, ribbed jumpers.

Only 2 collections and many stockists (Selfridges included) later, Plys is becoming a distinctive brand with a universe of its own. Unisex, dance-floor-ready and high-quality – it’s the definition of a contemporary brand changing the traditional ideas. We would pair the pink and red colour-block jumper with an A-line zipped denim mini skirt and a pair of velvet sandals for a transitional period simultaneously appropriate for each of the four seasons. Who says you can’t wear a jumper to Ibiza?

Shop Plys from Selfridges.

Cats Brothers, UK

Decidedly more nostalgic but playful nonetheless is Cats Brothers. The brand was launched in 2012 by Lindsay McKean and Anna Wilkinson as a humorous take on knitwear that seemed like a year-long appropriate version of the Christmas jumper. “I am certainly not inventing revolutionary or original techniques – what I enjoy the most is re-interpreting more classic stitches and techniques within a more contemporary collection,” McKean tells us when describing the unique selling point of her brand, adding “It's more in the styling of the knits that I can offer anything unique.” Embellished, textured and crafty – the knits serve as a fashion antidote to low blood sugar. And when it comes to designing for summer, McKean’s approach is spacing out the stitches and creating a more opened pattern as well as using naturally lightweight fabrics like silk and cotton in order to create a sun-friendly garment.

Cats Brothers is a unisex brand and exudes a misfit energy – and it all comes from the brand’s name, inspired by a piece of art found by McKean’s former business partner Anna Wilkinson. “It was a pretty terrible painting of two cats, slightly boss-eyed and possibly stuffed with the slogan Cats Brothers emblazoned across it – I still love that it suggests a collective or gang of little weirdos working away together, which is often the case in our studio,” says McKean. And in line with that kooky attitude is our favourite piece from the brand’s spring/summer 2017 collection, a blue and red knitted bra with paillettes – just waiting to be worn with a bikini bottom to the beach, or paired with a white t-shirt and a pair of black tailored trousers to a dinner party. Cocktail umbrellas obligatory!

Shop Cats Brothers from Selfridges.

Text by Dino Bonacic