I have put together a 20 of the best Mod knitwear labels round-up, which might be useful if the temperatures drop and you want something with a 1960s vibe.
If I had done this round-up a few years ago I would have struggled to make the 10. But two things have happened since. First off, a number of new labels have come into play. Small start-ups challenging the established labels.
Secondly. Mods have become a little more open-minded when it comes to clothing. That’s not to say the look has changed massively. More a case of people being more open to a wider selection of labels offering that look, as opposed to sticking to the same two or three brands. You know the ones.
Throw in some ore generic online labels offering the occasional Mod-inspired piece and things have become really healthy right now, whatever your budget. On that last point, I have tried to keep things across the board price-wise but at the end of the day, you get what you pay for. And sometimes going really cheap doesn’t work if you want a knit for the long run.
There is no order to this at all, just 20 labels I think are worth checking out if you get chance.
1. Art Gallery Clothing
A good place to start is a label that’s a regular on these pages – and for very good reason.
Alex (the man behind AGC) has a good idea for both design and colour, producing an ever-changing (well, almost) range of knitwear with both long and short sleeves, as well as zips and buttons (and more classic round neck and turtle neck designs), that are ideal for any Mod’s wardrobe. Compared to many on here, AGC knitwear is available for a reasonable price too. In short, this is a good place to look for a Mod staple. Great for a sale too.
The latest design is a slight departure, a take on a classic 1960s cycling shirt known as the Gastone (pictured above) in two shades, both with button rear pockets, tipping and a quarter-zip collar. You can get that for £69.
Worth knowing that there is a clearance site on eBay too.
2. John Smedley knitwear
I couldn’t do a round-up of Mod knitwear without featuring the label that’s probably the first to come to mind for many of you.
John Smedley has been making clothing since the 18th century and has the oldest manufacturing factory in the world, which is where you can find the occasional factory sale too. Well worth the trip if you can get to Derbyshire.
The range might have gone a bit more ‘fashion’ in places but the heritage pieces like the Isis three-button polo (which has been in the range for around 80 years) are still available to buy year on year. If you want a timeless Mod/ivy league look, the Smedley range is always worthy of a browse.
But never cheap. This is quality knitwear with a price to match, Something like the Dorset long-sleeve knit pictured here (available in pretty much any shade you want) is made from John Smedley Extra Fine Merino Wool and sells from £190.
Actually, sometimes it is cheap. Note that there is an online John Smedley Outlet store that does offer cut-price deals on end of line pieces. But as Smedley designs don’t change much, it’s pretty much like buying the full-price pieces. But for a lot less.
3. Connection Knitwear
Actually, Connection offers a lot more than knitwear these days. But that is where the label started and as such, is one of its strong points.
You can check out an interview I did with Daniele Savare here, who is the man behind the Connection label. It gives you an insight into him and the label.
In short, quality knitwear made in limited numbers to a very high standard by small makers in Italy. All using designs that could be straight out of the early-to-mid 1960s. Those designs change regularly, although you can backorder some of the past designs if you wish.
I have picked out one above, which is the Domino fill-button knit, but have a look at the full range of knits and clothing if you can. €190 for this one.
4. Scott Fraser Collection
Not cheap and not specifically aimed at the Mod market (although some of you will know him from the Mod scene). But there is good reason to feature the Scott Fraser Collection in this rundown.
Like the Connection label above, this one is about quality and about looking to the past for inspiration without being tied to a specific scene or era. To be fair, Connection is more of a Mod label, but Scott Fraser casts his net more widely across the decades. Saying that there is much for a Mod’s wardrobe in the knitwear section.
Have a look and see what you think. I have picked out this black and green panelled wool knit shirt, which is Italian-made from 100% Merino wool and made to order. Some lovely 1960s detail here and quality you’ll struggle to match. The downside is the hit on your wallet, with the shirt priced from £245.
5. Jump The Gun
Something more affordable from the ever-reliable Jump The Gun in Brighton.
You know all about Jump The Gun, a Mod retailer of some note and of some years, offering pretty much everything you would expect of such a place, which obviously takes in a good amount of knitwear.
Submariners, Bretons, short sleeves and long sleeves. Some own brands, other pieces being collaborations. Something for any weather and occasion. Fairly standard sweaters, cardigans and polo shirts too, of course. But I’m going to pick out one colour option of this long-sleeve button-through top, which is a limited edition in all its shades and selling for £115.
6. DNA Groove
The daddy of smart Mod clothing, DNA Groove has extended its remit in the recent past but is still a stop-off for premium Mod clothing.
Owner Claudio has a good eye for detail and an insistence on quality. The clothing might not be cheap, but it is made to last and to catch the eye. That includes the knitwear pieces too. The Rioja 20 gauge knitted polo pictured here is typical, detailed with contrast stripes and produced from an extra-fine Merino wool.
That one sells for around €140.
From a premium to something more affordable. And something not strictly Mod.
Collectif started off doing retro womenswear but has recently drifted into menswear too. Although much of the range is based around the 1940s and 1950s, the label isn’t averse to popping into the 1960s for inspiration too, especially when it comes to knits. Even better, the price is reasonable and they offer big discounts at sale time too.
So the Peru stitched polo shirt pictured here is actually in the sale for around £15 right now in different shades. Worth a look.
8. Fred Perry
Yes, they do the iconic polo shirts. But Fred Perry does much more these days, especially a solid range of knitwear.
You probably know some of the more obvious stuff. V-neck sweaters and cardigans with a Laurel Wreath are pretty standard when it comes to the Fred Perry range. But the Reissues collection has opened up the archive, with some nice knits appearing as a result.
The Cable Knit Shirt is part of the current range, designed in the 1960s to bridge life on and off the tennis court in the ‘60s. The new version is a premium affair made in Italy and sells for £150. Nailed on for the sale though. Worth checking the End Clothing Sale for markdowns on Fred Perry.
9. Far Afield
Another recent arrival and another label that doesn’t focus solely on Mods.
You might recall them being called TukTuk and doing button-down shirts. They still do those and more recently the label has started to do a range of 1960s-style knits. I featured the short-sleeved polos, which were in the sale until recently (some are still there now at the retailer’s site and at Bombinate). But with temperatures dipping, longer sleeves are now in.
You can see the Alfar long-sleeve polo shirt above, which is available in a variety of colours. All sell for £85.
One of the breakout Mod-Friendly labels out there, which is in part due to its wonderful knitwear offerings.
There is so much more about Anglozine and if you want to know more, I have interviewed owner Reuben Billingham a while back to get to the heart of what the label was about. In short, it’s a modern-day label taking inspiration from the past, producing clothing likely to appeal to Mods.
One design that has certainly appealed is the Jook mid-zip crew, which is made in Italy from a heavyweight Scottish Shetland wool and as such, is perfect for the winter. Various sizes and colours, with a price of £195.
Another fairly new label and one that seems to have been put on the map by Paul Weller. Although I’d like to think I got in first!
The label is all about a classic 1960s look and as it the trend right now (and for good reason) throwing in some quality too.
This range of this Italian label changes regularly, but the knitwear often catches the eye. In terms of what is out there right now, the Otis, inspired by a piece of knitwear worn by Otis Redding, is a Merino wool top produced in Italy and packed full of all the little details and touches we all love. From hand-stitched tycoons to mother of pearl buttons. But you are looking at €245 if you want one.
A lot of the labels here specialise in small runs of limited edition designs. Mendoza included.
Of course, the problem with that is missing out if you see something you love. The solution? Keep an eye on their social media and websites. If you do, you’ll find clothing for the ‘modern-day dandy’ inspired by a bygone era and all made in London.
Knitwear is a bit sparse right now, with some designs recently sold out. Sadly, that includes the Rude Boy knitted cardigan pictured here, although it does tend to come back in short runs of different colours. If it does, expect to pay around £195.
13. Gabicci Vintage
If there’s one label people tend to love or hate it’s Gabicci. But it has its fans and as such, deserves a place here.
Gabicci, with its Vintage range, produced knitwear inspired by design of the 1960s and 1970s. The problem is that sometimes the designs can go a bit too far and have a touch of the ‘Delboy’ about them. But when they do it well, Gabicci is still worth checking out.
Check it all out but personally I quite like Gregory Isaacs capsule range, which is a bit pricier, but gets the balance just right. The polo collar sweater pictured here is part of it and lands next month for £115.
14. Orlebar Brown
Not a hint of Mod about this brand. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have Mod appeal.
Orlebar Brown is a more general, premium knitwear brand and is perhaps best-known right now for recreating clothing from classic James Bond movies. Do have a look at those pieces if you haven’t had a chance.
But this slim-fit merino wool cardigan is just from the main range, a timeless and understated design with a 1960s slant. But at £295, it’s a hefty outlay.
15. 3M Caverni
Knitwear and sportswear combined, courtesy of the range of 3M Caverni.
To be fair, a lot of labels are doing cycling knitwear. You can see the pick of it in my top cycling tops for Mods round-up. But 3M Caverni stands out because of the price.
Classic knitted cycling tops that work for bikes or casual wear, with tipping, quarter-zip and plenty of colours, as well as design variations too, such as a button collar. Priced from around €44 online, they offer great value for money.
Sunspel is a longstanding label with a track record in timeless knits. Think of it as competition for John Smedley if you like.
Short sleeves, long sleeves, chunky knits and more. If you want a well-made piece of traditional knitwear, go check them out. It is also home to the Riviera polo shirt, which was made for James Bond in the movie franchise.
But I’m not featuring that. Instead, I’m flagging up its short-sleeve knitted polo shirt, a slim-fit Italian design available in various shades. Similar prices to Smedley too at £155.
17. Beams Plus
The Japanese label has been operating under the radar for a few years. But has become more popular of late.
Beams Plus focus on making high-quality clothing, often inspired by the mid-20th century. mainly ivy, but occasionally with a touch of Mod and sometimes throwing us off guard with something completely contemporary.
Anyway, in term of knits, they are currently producing this Stripe Polo Knit in two colours, both with a contrast front and three-button polo. They sell for £120 each.
Another cycling label and another you might well be familiar with. Especially one particular design.
Again, this is a label I have featured in terms of an interview, specifically an interview with label boss Diederik Degryse. You might know the label as one of Paul Weller’s favourites too.
The big seller here (in Mod terms) are the wonderful knitted cycling jackets, which are great for on or off the bike and made of Merino wool to keep you nice and warm. Expect to pay around €150 for one.
Looking for a budget option? Have a look at the offering at Uniqlo.
The Japanese retailer is great for wardrobe staples across the board and is always worth a look, whether it’s for budget desert boots and button-downs or for its knitwear section, which is relevant right now.
Crewnecks, polo shirts, cardigans and more. All in a variety of colours and sizes and all in the affordable bracket. From experience, built to last too. If the price of a Smedley top scares you off, check out the Extra Fine Merino Wool Knit here, which has a similar look, plenty of colours and a price of £34.90.
20. Ben Sherman
Just sneaking into the top 20 is a longstanding Mod brand.
Sneaking in because the range is so erratic. For every good-looking knit that appears, a number of less appealing designs tends to be sat beside it. But that’s no reason to write them off. The occasional winner is worth persevering for.
Not many this time out if I’m honest and too often there’s an unnecessary logo stuck on there, but this Zip Through Knitted Bomber has something about it and available for £85.
That’s about it really. Expect the rundown to be updated as and when I see something new and feel free to suggest anything interesting for a feature. I would probably add that the high street is worth keeping an eye on. You never know when something will appear randomly that fits the look.
And also, don’t buy really cheap. There’s a reason why clothing is ridiculously cheap – and it’s not to do you a favour. But cheap and you will buy often.