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Identifying late 90s-early 2000s (?) military-style merino blend cardigan with knit intarsia pattern

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by kentsfield, Feb 20, 2021.

  1. kentsfield

    kentsfield Registered Guest

    Hi all,

    I recently picked up a very interesting sweater from a secondhand shop. At first glance I thought it was military surplus, as the olive drab color and suede patches are reminiscent of various mil-issue sweaters (such as the British "woolly pully"), but then I noticed the intricate knitted designs and immediately got the feeling that it must be designer. Intrigued, I checked the tags to see what brand it was, unfortunately finding none.

    The sweater is a cardigan that buttons up to the neck similar to how a collared shirt would, and it also has a shirt-like collar. It has suede patches on the front and shoulders, and handwarmer pockets with suede trim. There are two care tags attached: one is a Woolmark Total Easy Care tag, showing on one side the composition is a 50% merino 50% acrylic blend along with the Woolmark logo, and wash instruction symbols and "IL FILO MADE IN ITALY" on the other. The other tag states "Only Chemical Cleaning By Leather Experts" on one side, and the same written in Italian on the other. Annoyingly, you can also see the remnants of a third tag, which I presume would be the one that would tell me what I want to know, that has been cut off. Near the neckline, there's a size label that simply says "L" on both sides.

    Unfortunately I was able to find very little information about the piece itself. According to this press release, Woolmark launched their Total Easy Care brand in August 1999. GINETEX, who is in charge of standardizing laundry care symbols, states here that care tags have been required to have all 5 types of symbols, in order, since 2006. Given that the drying instruction (square) symbol isn't present on the tag, it appears that this sweater was manufactured some time between 1999 and 2006 (hopefully that isn't too new to be considered "vintage" here).

    I'm hoping somebody recognizes the piece or can give me some pointers on how to figure out what brand it is. I've taken photos of the front, back, and all attached tags. Click on them to view them in higher resolution. I'd be happy to provide any additional photos you may be interested in seeing.

    (EDIT: don't worry, it was only hung to take those photos)


    Thanks and best regards,
  2. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

    Nice jacket!

    There's something odd here because I think easy care wool, and definitely that woolmark logo, should still be 100% wool. Whereas this says 50% acrylic. There are woolmarks that denote wool blends, but this one is the pure wool logo. So not sure how that comes about. Perhaps the manufacturer didn't understand the terms of the licence.

    It also has contradictory care instructions, both machine washable, and chemical leather clean only. It can't be both! So again the manufacturer not really understanding the purpose of care labels. If you add non- washable leather to a garment, you shouldn't have the machine washable tag, as it's no longer appropriate.

    This doesn't help tell you who made it but I thought I'd point it out.

    I think you are right that the lack of drying symbol combined with the easy care label, probably indicates the time period as you suggest.

    I'm not seeing intarsia by the way, which is a colour work technique, with blocks or designs worked in yarns of different colours. Unless there's a subtle colour change that isn't obvious from your photos? It looks like the yarn is slightly marled, so the all over colour isn't completely solid, but that is something else.

    The front looks mainly like a wide rib stitch, but I can see there's some kind of long triangular section from the hem to the chest that is worked in a different textured stitch pattern.

    Nice piece all the same. It will probably be hard to find who made it. I think the odd labelling probably means a small, not well known, company, but that's a guess on my part.
    Midge likes this.
  3. kentsfield

    kentsfield Registered Guest

    Perhaps intarsia isn't the right term, I'm not very knowledgeable about knitting techniques. Here's some closer pictures of the sections I was referring to.


    The contradictory care tags stood out to me as well. Some designers like to take existing pieces and rework them, so perhaps the leather bits were added after the fact like that, and they just didn't bother removing the original tag. Even if this was the case the unique knit patterns are intriguing. The incorrect use of the Woolmark logo makes it even more confusing.

    Hopefully I'll be able to come across someone who recognizes it. I always love learning about lesser-known designers.

    Thanks for the reply,
    Retro Ruth likes this.
  4. Retro Ruth

    Retro Ruth Administrator Staff Member

    Actually seeing these pictures, that might be intarsia, there do appear to be two or three different coloured yarns there, which I couldn't tell in the first photos as they are quite similar in tone.

    I'd need to see a close up of the reverse to be sure if it's intarsia or a different technique. This may not be important to you, but feel free to show if you are interested! The main colour work methods are jacquard (including stranded knitting, which is a common jacquard method but not the only one), and intarsia, plus a few others too. I suspect this may be a kind of jacquard, but not stranded, and a technique more used with machine knitting. I can't know without seeing the back. I'm more familiar with hand knitting than machine knitting, but many techniques are common to both.

    If you are interested, I could show photos of front and reverse machine-knitted intarsia and stranded. (Just to warn you, I'm a knitting nerd)
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2021 at 5:57 AM
  5. Avantbo

    Avantbo Registered Guest


    I add very little.

    It's a nice shirt, I think your dating is bang on.

    The wool & care instruction labels threw me so agree with Ruth's explanations as they makes the most sense.

    I tend to refer to this type of knit wear generically as ribbed.

    The closest I came to it being anything similar to yours was a made in Italy " Trend" label.

    Good luck with finding who made or retailed it, to my eye, if I squint, it is a little hunting style inspired.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021 at 7:38 AM
  6. Midge

    Midge Trade Member

    I can't add much more - definitely odd regarding the care labels!

    As for an item being vintage or not, the VFG applies the 20 year rule, same as Etsy for example, so it would need to be at least 20 years old in order for something to be vintage :).
    Retro Ruth likes this.
  7. GemGem

    GemGem Registered Guest

    How strange, without the label confusion I would have said 70s for the style of it. I'm wondering when those labels were added? Is the stitching exactly the same colour attaching the labels, as on the seams?

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