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The official blog of Gap Inc.

The craft of cashmere: Banana Republic partners with Scotland’s famed Todd & Duncan mill

DesignKelly Flanagan and Brooke Ginnard, Gap Inc. bloggers1 Comment

Deceptively green at a glance, the rolling hills that envelop the heart of Scotland are a mix of highs and lows — the grasses a blend of greens, golds, browns, oranges dotted with purple wildflowers and white sheep. The clouds also add to this effect — a dramatic blend of whites, grays, browns constantly mixing together to diffuse light and rain over the autumn landscape, parting every so often to reveal the sun.

This rustic blend of natural colors is reflected at famed Scottish cashmere mill Todd & Duncan, where pigment specialists take inspiration from Scotland's countryside to give new life and color to the finest quality cashmere fiber — painstakingly cared for and crafted into the world's most luxurious, sought-after cashmere yarn.

Now partnering with Banana Republic, Todd & Duncan is using its 140-plus years of spinning expertise to develop luxurious cashmere yarns, using the finest quality cashmere fiber, in exclusive colors for the brand.

"They offer these color ranges that you really don't see anywhere else," says Megan Kearney, Sr. Manager of Production at Banana Republic. "They've developed a couple of color palettes for us that focus on new neutrals — aside from the typical grays, creams and oatmeals — so it really creates a full neutral color range."

Like Scotland's hills, at first glance a Banana Republic cashmere sweater spun with Todd & Duncan yarn may, deceptively, appear blue. Upon closer inspection, the cashmere encompasses a blend of blues, greens, browns, even oranges. These unique blends create rich colors with a fullness that leaps out from any wardrobe.

Craftsmanship is taken seriously at Todd & Duncan: A "junior" spinner may have been working at the mill for just 20 years, as opposed to a master spinner who will have worked with the yarn for more than 40.

Men and women working in various stages of yarn production speak of the mill as if it were an old family friend. With warm voices and a twinkle in their eyes, they can tell you about the mill's history in Scotland, its reputation for quality and the pride they take in carrying that reputation forward. Signs throughout the mill remind employees that the quality of the cashmere yarns is in their hands.

Though armed with a deep-rooted history, Todd & Duncan continues to reinvest its resources in new technologies, partnering closely with Banana Republic and others to evolve the design capabilities of cashmere and deliver luxurious yarns that customers crave.

"The cashmere is built to last here because we use the best raw material," says Bruce Cameron, who manages brand partnerships for Todd & Duncan. "We use long fiber with a consistent micron. We then take care of that through every one of the processes so we're not damaging it, and then we spin it slightly differently. We make it a very firm yarn that will get softer and softer... like a rose that is about to go into bloom."

Watch the video, above, to learn more about how Todd & Duncan crafts its cashmere yarns.

Read more about how Banana Republic partners with cross-functional teams to transform product, and about how the BR team chooses third-party labels to feature in stores.