Lovers of the finest cashmere and silk scarves are in for a unique treat this autumn. Lindéngruppen-owned Alex Begg & Company, based on Scotland's west coast and one of the world’s top cashmere weavers, has just launched its first fashion collections under its own brand.
The first Begg and Co scarves, stoles, wraps and throws are just hitting stores in selected markets including the UK, the US, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Japan and South Korea.
The new collections for men and women are also being made available online on the company's new Begg & Co e-store at www.beggandcompany.com.
It is the first time in Begg's 147-year history that the firm has produced contemporary fashion garments under its own brand.
Begg has traditionally supplied top-quality cashmere, silk and lambswool angora apparel to world-leading luxury goods companies and famous couturiers such as Vivienne Westwood.
Wearers of Begg-made items include US president Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duchess of Cambridge.
"For a long time we've had a very strong reputation for making the world's finest quality scarves, but that reputation has been in the trade rather than among consumers," said Ian Laird, managing director of parent company Moorbrook Textiles.
"We're hoping that through Begg & Co we will now come into contact with some of the people we have not reached before."
So far, the market response to the first collections has been resoundingly positive.
"We're absolutely delighted with the response so far. It's been really good worldwide," Laird revealed.
To design the new collections Begg bolstered its in-house expertise with creative input from two well-known industry names: Angela Bell of Queen & Belle, a Scottish cashmere specialist, and men's accessory designer Michael Drake through his agency, Man Drake.
The result is two seasonal collections that draw their inspiration from contemporary and historic archive sources.
Begg employs around 60 skilled craftspeople at its factory in Ayr. They follow an artisanal and handcrafted process, using traditional looms and specialist machines to produce the best results and finishes.
The company's signature Arran cashmere cloth uses spiky dried teasel flower heads specially grown in Italy to gently brush the surface of the cloth to create a characteristic "ripple" finish that is synonymous with Begg cashmere.
Only when new machinery has been proven to outperform traditional methods, has it been brought in to enhance sophistication and flexibility.