This resulted in a 42% growth in the value of the sector, which rose to £77 million for the year.
Two thirds of this growth was driven by the under 25s market, while cardigan sales declined in the over 55s bracket. Multiples took most of the sales, but indies also grew knitwear sales by offering branded cardigans at higher prices.
Jayne Hennigan, manager of menswear indie Dapper Man in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, agreed that sales of men’s cardigans had increased and confirmed it was younger men leading the move. “Cardigans used to be an old man thing, but younger guys are now willing to give it a try. They see the celebrities wearing cardigans and take it up,” she said.
Hennigan said she sold cardigans from brands including Lyle & Scott, Hugo Boss and Armani Collezioni, and added that she was impressed with the increased style and colour options. “The product is more up to date. There are now various styles, with slim cuts offering a trend-led look,” she said. She added cardigan sales were not replacing jumpers, but were a popular alternative.
Feedback from wholesale agents indicated that the appeal will continue for autumn 08.Simon Poole, managing director of menswear label Luke, said buyer interest in men’s cardigans was strong. “Their popularity has increased phenomenally,” he said. “One of the reasons is that warmer weather means men are layering their clothes. They now wear lightweight cardigans instead of a blouson, or a chunky cardigan instead of a coat.”
John Smedley brand manager Dawne Stubbs said cardigan sales had started to pick up for autumn 07 and the momentum was continuing for autumn 08.
“Our cardigan sales may even have risen more than that [35%] figure,” she said. “We have increased the variety of our range to cater for the interest.”
Stubbs said plain-coloured cardigans in fine-gauge knits sell best, while stripes and jacquard patterns are becoming popular.
Eden Park marketing manager Damien Boursiquot said cardigans had not been a key part of the brand’s collection until autumn 07, but the brand had increased its autumn 08 range to cater for the trend.