The chic way to wear a cardigan & six sustainable knitwear brands to look out for

— by Alyson Walsh

Photos: Claire Pepper


Cardigans are always cool. I often wear one over a jumpsuit or with jeans but after two years slouching around in the spare room, I’ve been feeling the need to smarten up. To feel a bit more put-together. Much as I loved wearing one of my dad’s old cardigans as a teenage indie fan, today I’m digging the neater Grace Kelly-vibe. The oversized, grungy knit is still appealing but the classic round neck-style goes with a variety of trousers, skirts and dresses. And in terms of slow fashion, I’m always trying to make the most of clothes. To find versatile pieces that unlock others and offer a whole host of chic wardrobe possibilities (for days when I actually leave the building).

The wool and cashmere cardigan I’m wearing is a very generous gift from Genevieve Sweeney – a small, sustainable brand manufacturing in the UK using responsible yarns. For Christmas, I gave Mr That’s Not My Age a sock subscription from the designer. Every month a stylish new pair arrives in the post, and he can slowly upgrade his sock drawer. If I say so myself, it is lovely to spread joy across the year and receive a little gift each month. Have to admit, though, Mr TNMA started it by organising a Daunt Books subscription for me before the first lockdown. The best birthday present ever; an absolute treat when a new, carefully chosen paperback popped through the letterbox during the early days of the pandemic. Anyhow. The sock subscription led to a conversation between myself and Genevieve the designer about how she got started and so I thought I’d share her story with you…


Having studied knitwear at Nottingham Trent and designed for Rag & Bone in New York, Hugo Boss in Switzerland and then Burberry back in the UK, Genevieve started experimenting with her own samples. ‘Throughout my career I’ve loved meeting makers and going to factories and yarn mills. I love the people, the skill and the craftsmanship. I even took my husband on holiday around the UK to visit various knitwear manufacturers!’ What started out as a small personal project, buying up old machinery, applying modern design to traditional techniques, turned into a business. ‘ I realised two small projects in, that this was my brand,’ adds Sweeney. Though it took a while to get the company started, ‘Meeting factories, asking them to give me a chance as a young designer – sitting in the pub pleading with people.’ Success came after six months when a sock manufacturer took her under his wing, ‘ He taught me how to make a proper sock, it was such an honour – and then I literally took over his factory with my orders.’


Seeing the amount of wastage created by the fashion industry, Genevieve wanted to address the issue, ‘ I am growing the collection slowly,’ she continues, ‘and with a small business, money is key. I always try to use leftover yarn, I’m always developing and designing. I’m currently working with recycled yarns, twisting new yarns from deadstock for my socks. I love being able to create something beautiful out of waste.’



Genevieve Sweeney is offering TNMA readers 15% discount till the end of March 2022. Free postage for UK orders and free postage for international orders over £200. Simply use the code: TNMA15. The socks are fantastic – Mr TNMA is delighted with his monthly subscription (and I’ve got my eye on a sparkly pair) – and there are some lovely accessories including bright, geometric scarves, as well as the small collection of luxury jumpers and cardigans.

It’s so good to see sustainability becoming mainstream; here are five more sustainable knitwear companies worth checking out: Quinton & Chadwick, Finisterre, Navygrey, Sheep Inc and Community Clothing. And two more chic cardigans on my radar: the twin pocket cardigan from Whistles made from responsibly-sourced wool comes in bubblegum pink, bright red and sky blue. The jewel button design from Jigsaw, in merino wool, is an absolute cracker.


Style Notes

The trousers I’m wearing are Kin Balloon trousers, a few years old from John Lewis (only available in black and cobalt blue at the minute). My cardigan was a very generous gift from Genevieve Sweeney. My belt is from Doe Leather. The leather satchel in the first photo is M.Hulot (no longer available). Groovy boots are by Ops&Ops. The pearl drop earrings are Completed Works (loaned for the shoot and returned).


How are you wearing your cardigan?



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  Cardigans are always cool. I often wear one over a jumpsuit or with jeans but after two years slouching around in the spare room, I’ve been feeling the need to smarten up.