Dalmo made-to-measure cashmere

Monday, May 3rd 2021
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In recent weeks we’ve talked about hand-framed knitwear - the slow knitting process used on knits like the Stoffa ribbed polo and the Saman Amel cricket sweater

I’ll do a more in-depth piece on the process later, but today I wanted to add one more producer to that list: an Italian family-run company called Dalmo, based in Tuscany. 

Dalmo’s main business is making for other people. They are the kind of small workshop that produces top-end knits for luxury brands such as United Arrows and Rubinacci, as well as for smaller operations such as Brio in Beijing, or Sartoria Corcos. 

But they also sell under their own name, and offer a remote made-to-measure service of sorts. It was this offering that I tried, and which produced the grey crewneck pictured above. 

The workshop is small, with 10 people working seven looms or other machines. They do hand-framed knitwear and hand-woven scarves - which use similarly sized, old machines - as well as some actual hand knitting. 

You can see two of the women hand knitting above. Often when big brands say something is hand knitted, they mean hand framed (below). To an extent this is understandable, as the effect is similar, with both creating a more spongy, malleable feel than regular knitwear. Hand knitting is further along the same spectrum.

The workshop was set up by Lorando Dalmo in 1950, inspired by his mother’s knitting, and in the following decades he made for brands such as Ferragamo, Trussardi and Sacks Fifth Avenue. 

In 2000, the next generation took over, and focused the business on just hand-made knitwear in luxury materials. That's mostly Loro Piana yarn, but also cashmere/silk, vicuna, and in Summer linen, Peruvian pima cotton and makò.

Today Clotilde Dalmo, Lorando’s granddaughter, runs the social media and handles individual customers, like those looking for made to measure. 

I was recommended Dalmo by a friend, and asked Clotilde about making an MTM sweater for me. 

She initially suggested I send body measurements, but in my experience it's more reliable to use existing knitwear and tweak it, largely because most guys have little experience with commissioning knitwear (unlike shirts or suits). 

I find it’s better, therefore, to either try something the brand already has, or measure knitwear you already own and consider what you would change. Clotilde was happy to do this - the MTM service is pretty informal at this point, and operating mostly over Instagram. 

She sent me a crewneck in a size 40, which turned out to be a pretty good fit, and I just requested the waist to be narrowed by 4cm (in width, not circumference), the sleeves to be shortened and the collar to be slightly smaller. All were based off measurements I took of other knits I own. 

The knit I received three weeks later was beautiful, but had a small error with the width in the waist. It looked like 4cm had been added, rather than taken away. 

Clotilde was very apologetic, and said she suspected it was down to the fact a different woman had made the new piece than the sample, because so many have had to self isolate during Covid. Which is pretty understandable. 

A new piece was made, received another two weeks later, and was perfect. It is pictured here: a fairly heavyweight crewneck, in four-ply cashmere from Loro Piana. The hand feel really is lovely, probably the nicest feeling knit I have alongside the Saman Amel covered recently

Given the weight and brand of the yarn, it was towards the top end of Dalmo’s range, at €540. The cheapest is €215 for a summer-weight polo. 

Most people, even those that have only MTM tailoring or shirts, are fine without MTM knitwear. They just need to find a brand that fits fairly well, whether that’s a little slim or a little big. 

But for those that like these things more precise, or are particularly tall and slim, for example, there are few hand-framed or hand-knitted options. I tried Licia Luchini for hand knitting last year, but it wasn’t that successful. And brands like Stoffa or Saman Amel do it, but only in their particular designs. 

I’m pleased therefore Dalmo worked out well, and I can recommend them. It’s also a lovely workshop and team of people. I’m considering next either a fully hand-knitted piece or a hand-framed Summer one.

Clotilde is in the process of setting up a website to make ordering easier, but in the meantime anyone can contact her on Instagram @dalmocashmere, or email [email protected]

In the images here, I’m wearing the knit with:

Other made-to-measure knitwear we’ve covered, for comparison, includes:

Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt

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John

Great piece as always, Simon! I really enjoy reading about these kinds of operations, it just gives such a wholesome impression. For some reason it really makes me glad that the piece turned out as well as it did. I will keep them in mind for my future knitwear purchases. Cheers!

Peter Hall

The smaller collar works really nicely with a shirt or colour underneath. Did you have the option of picking any knitwear colour?

Il vecchio

Very good looking sweater. I particularly like the single rib neck. It’s difficult to find this in cashmere although common in shetlands.

Penn

A typo, Simon: Saks Fifth Avenue, not Sacks.

Rodrigo

Simon, have you tried the current incarnation of Berk? I am under the impression they employ the old Carlee personnel that used to make Ballantyne, which Berk used to sell in the old arcade shop. Curious whether the quality is what it used to be.

Ian Skelly

It looks lovely , great to see they are using loro piana cashmere also, I love LP but can’t afford it so it’s great if manufactor’s are upfront about who they use (I’m still trying to find brands who use them for merino jumpers) slightly off topic but do you have any plans to review alexander krafts clothing range? it looks lovely but would be good to see if the quality is good

Ian Skelly

yes, your dartmoor looks great but I prefer crew necks (any updates on if you are going to do another run on your navy merino crew neck BTW ?)

Anonymous

Hallo Simon,

looks great. How would you compare them with 40 Colori fit-, quality- und pricewise? And: Do you get the same quality of fabric with a Loro Piana yarn than with a Loro Piana garment, or do they keep the best qualities for themselves?

Thanks

Manuel

Guillaume

Looks great, Simon, and I agree with John about who wholesome the set-up appears.

I’ve always wondered with MTM or bespoke knitwear, won’t the precis nature of the fit be sacrificed through stretching during wear, and shrinkage during even careful washing, more than with other fabrics? Do the makers compensate for this with the delivered products normally?

John H

Looks a little wide at the neck, no?

WES WP

This is a question I’ve Googled, but I can’t put it together –

Can you tell me what that overcoat fabric is called that looks like it’s “pilling” but it’s not (it has a raised texture)? I see it (sometimes) in Italian made pieces (it seems expensive).

Thanks!

Wes

WES WP

Yes! That’s it – thank you!

(didn’t know it was cheap – that’s even better)

Thanks for being there.

Peter Hall

The Butteri of Maremma are cattle drovers and their jackets traditionally olive green (Tuscan family😀)
https://www.itstuscany.com/en/butteri-the-maremma/

Amazing where PS goes….

RTK

This sweater is the essence of the PS blog. A made to measure cashmere sweater made by an Italian nonna in Tuscany for a fair price. I
Well done Mr Compton.

RTK

Sorry the spell checker changed Crompton to Compton

Vali

I’ve never purchased expensive knitwear mainly because I didn’t see any value in it and because it’s a real pain to take good care of (cashmeres and fine wools). I tend not to buy sensitive fabrics because I’m never in the mood to wash it by hand in cold water. A question I have about make is what’s the actual benefit of having a hand knitted or hand framed knit? I know I tend to have a practical approach to an emotional hobby and it took me a long time to find the benefits and beauty of handmade tailoring but I still can’t find them in knitwear.

Daniel

Hi Simon,
I am a regular reader of your articles and I learned a lot about elegance.
I am interested by a cashmere sweater from Dalmo.
Would you advise to buy a 2 or 4 ply ? Aim is to wear in mid-season. Is there a difference in external aspect ?
Kind regards

Ben Frankel

As a former Ballantyne cashmere designer I find this article very pleasing.
However life is different, I find Uniqlo men’s cashmere fine for my needs, in black and charcoal marl, especially the Jil Sander range, well cut and easy.
also a terrific black crew neck cashmere with a dark navy back, by JW Anderson/ Uniqlo.
I used to work with Drumohr in Scotland, the hand finish and seamless shoulder were wonderfully crafted and I still wear pieces many years old. However that culture and finesse is no more…
Ben Frankel

Luke Collins

A quick and unusual addition to this thread. I’ve been searching high and low for someone to make a custom pillow case for my wife for our 10-year anniversary: she has a small “pillow” (15cms x 10cms) that she’s had literally since the day she was born. It’s ratty and tatty and falling apart (she still tucks it under her pillow every night), and probably ranks below our kids but above me in terms of her most prized possessions.

After reading this, Simon, I contacted Clotilde and she has been a delight: incredibly responsive, helpful, and just a pleasure to work with. As we speak, her team is knitting a beautiful case in 4-ply Loro Piana cashmere, ensuring a treasured possession will get a new lease on life. I may even order a second case, just as a back up … and a sweater or two. Of course, none of this would have been possible without your post, letting us all know about the work Dalmo is doing – so, thank you!

Leo

A really interesting piece, Simon.
Thanks for adding information about the range of specialised knitwear houses around.
It’s a whole new dimension to classic menswear.

Lu

Hello Simon,

what a great blog you have. I am following it for probably the last ten (?) years, and it is great to see how big this has become.

I was wondering if you could point me to a site or retail shop that deals with classic old-school Italian outfits. I see that you incorporate a lot of Italian stuff, but I am looking for something as old and stuffy as Cordings, but from Italy, rather country/Alpine than city, rather casual than bespoke.

While I know a few Italian brands, I found it always quite surprising to discover local shops especially in the Northern part of Italy, Turin, Como, Milan, Bologna, which tons of merino jumpers, silk scarves and leather items in a wide range of colours, but from brands that are either super niche or just local produce.

Is there anything such as an Italian Cordings, i.e. a gentlemen outfitter?

Thanks a lot.

Ludolf

Lu

You were my last hope. There is no choice other than travelling to Turin and Como again 🙂

I am surprised no internet-shop has picked this up yet…..thanks anyway…