Testing the limits with Wispy
How light can cashmere go?
With five miles of the finest yarn in every scarf the Begg & Co Wispy is woven cashmere at its lightest reveals Nicola Campbell* from her factory tour with Operations Director, David Woodhouse
Since the brand’s launch in 2013, the biggest success story for Begg & Co is its Wispy scarf. As Operations Director, David was instrumental in the creation of this unique and beautiful lightweight scarf. The Wispy is cashmere at its finest. “The development of the Wispy goes back to 2004, it started with a conversation between myself and one of our yarn suppliers in the back of a car on the way to restaurant in Italy. We were discussing just how far you could push it in terms of making the finest, most lightweight cashmere product. How close to the edge could you go, to the point where it was so light and wispy (the name stuck) before it was impractical to make? That was the challenge I put to the yarn supplier. He came back with the idea of using a very, very fine cashmere thread spun from a fantastically fine cashmere fibre of which there is very little on the market. He said that the resulting yarn is way too fine to weave however he had this idea of a technique where we could use a supporting thread on the yarn that would help it through the weaving but that would later be dissolved in the finishing process,” explains David, who spent the next 18 months to two years working on making this revolutionary idea a reality. “At first it was a complete disaster – hopeless. I nearly gave up so many times along the way because it wasn’t working and every trial cost a lot of money. But eventually we perfected it. The supporting thread [for the delicate cashmere yarn] is actually a hardened PVA glue spun into a thread, which we then twist with the cashmere. The resultant thread is quite strong so we can weave it. After it is woven, we treat the fabric in an aqueous solution at a high temperature and the supporting thread transforms into liquid form and disappears. It leaves behind this very fine cashmere that otherwise you would not be able to weave.”
So David’s Wispy dream has become a reality: “It’s fantastic for us. It is unique in that it is the lightest cashmere product to come out of Scotland.” So the Wispy and its revolutionary yarn were perfected and developed for market in a range of plain colours and screen prints and its success grows and grows.
Ann Ryley, Begg & Co’s Sales & Marketing Director, concludes: “The Wispy is a firm Begg & Co bestseller. When I am out talking with our retail partners about the collection they tell me that they love being able to tell their customers there is an impressive five miles (8km) of this superfine cashmere yarn woven into each scarf. That they can say the yarn in the scarf would take you the length of Manhattan or from Clapham to the centre of London, so their customers can visualise just how fine the cashmere in these scarves is, underlines the beauty of The Wispy. It really is cashmere at its finest.”
Nicola Campbell is a fashion and lifestyle journalist with 18 years experience. She spent a decade honing her trade at the UK fashion business bible Drapers before taking the role of deputy editor on consumer shopping title Happy. Since then she has discovered the world of customer publishing for several brand clients at Redwood and has contributed to national newspapers and a number of glossy consumer magazines.
WHO LOVES WISPY & WHY
"Begg & Co does insanely covetable lightweight cashmere scarves in all the colours of the rainbow"
Hilary Rose in The Times Magazine
"Soft-as-soft, light-as-air cashmere scarves"
Lucia van der Post in Financial Times How To Spend It
"The Wispy was ideal for travelling, so light and soft, it took up hardly any room in my hand luggage but once wrapped around my neck was incredibly warm- it’s perfect for keeping cosy during a flight"
Kate Pittam, PR & Partnership Manager at Scott Dunn
"A Wispy Superfine Cashmere Scarf by Begg & Co makes a great travel companion."
The Conran Shop
"My wispy has become like a best friend...always a comfort and makes me feel great. It packs to nothing and I take it everywhere."
Sarah Murray of Jane Davidson
"The Wispy is the perfect travel companion and is equally popular with both men and women. Super light and a great way to add a little texture and/or colour to your outfit. And some gentle warmth around your neck when needed of course. Makes a great gift as well."
Mats KIingberg of Trunk Clothiers