UPDATE: Original article published in 2013
The article in the bottom of this post was originally published in September 2013, when Berk in the Burlington Arcade was closing. Ballantyne, the factory, was shutting down and Berk was the last retailer of its famous bare-finish cashmere. 
This post subsequently got a lot of attention and search-engine traffic when customers tried to search for Ballantyne of Berk knitwear online. 
We have since learnt about the recreation of that cashmere, and so inform readers about it.
Apparently, Anthony Stennett was asked by the then Managing Director of the Ballantyne brand, Mr Umberto Broggini, to replicate the Ballantyne range and produce 3000 pieces of cashmere for Berk.
Working closely with the technical team at Ballantyne he tracked down the knitters, machinists, cutters and hand-linkers to the companies where they had moved after the Ballantyne factory had closed. 
As you’d expect, the most difficult aspect to recreate was the finishing. The firm peachy feel, which Ballantyne has always referred to as the ‘bare finish’, is a combination of washing, steaming, boarding and drying.
When Ballantyne went into administration, Anthony tried to buy it, but in the end was outbid by a mid-market Italian company called Fabio Gatto. Ballantyne garments are now made in China.
Instead, Anthony decided later to buy the ‘Berk’ brand to sell the bare-finish cashmere he had created. He couldn’t afford the Burlington Arcade store, but he has set up an online presence at the site www.berkcashmere.co.uk
So, a happy finish, even if the diminishment of the Ballantyne brand is a sad one. Anthony is still working with the artisans who made the Ballantyne factory great, and customers can still buy it online.
More details on the product below.
Original article
Buy the last Ballantyne cashmere ever
September 25, 2013
Despite the size of its shop front, it is easy to miss Berk in the Burlington Arcade. Yet at one point Berk owned 10 different stores in the Arcade: one sold just Burberry raincoats; another specialised in Italian cashmere. The company had outlets on Madison Avenue, Westbourne Grove and Bond Street.
Over the years it grew smaller and smaller as brands launched their own stores. But it has remained one of the best sources of cashmere knitwear in London, based on three brands: John Smedley (which has only one fully-owned shop), Berk (made by Barrie in Scotland, now owned by Chanel) and Ballantyne.

Ballantyne was one of the great knitwear brands. For some, the greatest. But the company has gone through several phases of questionable management, including briefly sharing its factory with Brooks Brothers and Zegna (that lasted three months) and being owned by the style-icon-famous Montezemolo family. Réginald-Jérôme de Mans, in his inimitable style, wrote a detailed history on ASW last May.
That piece was prompted by the news that Ballantyne (well, the factory, Caerlee Mills – the brand had been spun off a while earlier) had gone into liquidation. The machinery was bought and smashed up.
The last few hundred pieces of original-Ballantyne cashmere are therefore only available at Berk, and they won’t be there for long. Navy V-necks have already sold out.

So is Ballantyne any better than other Scottish cashmere? It is certainly less milled and more tightly knitted. To the modern man, it doesn’t feel like cashmere at all. It is dense, hard wearing and continues to soften for up to eight washes. In return for that investment of time and washing you get cashmere that barely pills (because of that lack of over-milling), and lasts for years.
It is expensive (from £450 to £700), reflecting the work that goes into it, and while there are crew-necks, V-necks, polo shirts and cardigans, there is only one fit (‘classic’ or, my preferred euphemism, ‘generous’).

That is partly made-up for by the colour range, which is vast. There are over 50 shades. Apparently Versace used to go into the Madison Avenue store each season and buy a dozen of the brightest colours; Armani went in and only bought grey and black.
It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the Berk stock is a slice of history and certainly worth checking out.