Cheap Sheep: Harley Of Scotland Brushed Shetland Crewnecks

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I can’t remember exactly what J. Press’ Shaggy Dog sweaters cost when this site was founded in 2008, but it was a lot less than the $245 they’re charging today:

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Even pricier, Ralph Lauren has some brushed lambswool and cashmere crewnecks this season at $265. At least there’s a bubble-gum pink option:

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At those prices, though, one is tempted to start calling them “Shitlands.”

But there are less-expensive alternatives, particularly via the brand Harley Of Scotland. Orvis has them for $169, including a color they could have called heyday olive (see top image). The sweaters have also been “brushed for softness.”

But perhaps the best deal on Harley comes from Michigan retailer Bahle’s, which sells them for just $125. They come in a wide variety of flavors, including pistachio below, which should be a nice change of pace under your favorite tweeds:

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Note, however, that these particular Harley sweaters are not brushed. Subtracted from the cost of Orvis’ version, the cost of brushing is apprently $44. Exceptionally frugal trads might want to figure out how to do it themselves. — CC

25 Comments on "Cheap Sheep: Harley Of Scotland Brushed Shetland Crewnecks"

  1. Nothing wrong with the Harley’s. They fit, wear, and look great. What’s the latest on the khakis project? My apologies for changing the subject from sweaters.

  2. Levi’s (of all places) has some inexpensive, brushed crew neck sweaters that I touched and tried on last week.
    http://www.levi.com/US/en_US/mens-clothing-sweaters-sweatshirts/p/193530003

  3. “Exceptionally frugal trads might want to figure out how to do it themselves”

    Maybe best to try it with a thrifted throw-away sweater first? It can be hard to get an even effect.

  4. In my experience Bahle’s is an excellent online retailer.

    I’ve order from them, including these Shetlands, several times since about 2006 the service has always been prompt.

    As an added plus Bahle’s has been owned and operated by the same family since 1876. From their web site: “Bahle’s has been a tradition in the retail community of northern Michigan since 1876. For over 125 years we have been dressing our friends and neighbors in classic clothing for work and play. Today, we are one of the oldest family businesses in the state with the fourth generation operating the business. The same principals of service and quality which our founder Lars Bahle brought to the business in 1876 serve us well today.”

    Maybe there’s a story there for you, Christian.

    Until they changed their web site sometime in the past two weeks Harley’s of Scotland sold directly to the public worldwide, and these Shetland’s could be has for $95 delivered to the U.S.

  5. @Mazama

    Have you any experience with Bahle’s sport coats? I can’t tell if most are darted or have a hook vent due to the low resolution on the product photos.

    For the price (~$350), they look incredible.

  6. Compared to today,and uptated to inflation,the cost of quality clothes is increased from 1950-60s in USA ?
    in other words for the average Joe,a good sweater or a good suit cost more that for his father in 50s/60s?

  7. JDD, I have no experience with Bahle’s sport coats. I imagine a phone call to proprietor will obtain the information you desire.

    Also, I found Mr. Bahle very helpful in ordering products, colors, styles that are not on the web site for the brands he carries.

  8. Carmelo asks: “Compared to today,and uptated to inflation,the cost of quality clothes is increased from 1950-60s in USA ?”

    Carmelo, I often ask myself this and spot check to calculate the answer. The result varies a lot from one product/brand to another and, of course, today’s products vary in materials, etc.

    I just did a quick search and found an advertisement for a store in New Yorkd City (not BB) offering a cable knit Shetland crewneck for $22 in 1968. Adjusted for inflation per the CPI would mean that sweater cost $150 in current dollars.

    I just checked O’Connell’s website and found they currently offer Scottish-made cable knit Shetlands for $195 which makes them 29% more expensive – after adjusting for inflation – than the 1968 item.

  9. I have always wished that Bahle’s offered a small in their Harleys. They would have been getting a lot of business from me. Based on Mazama’s comment maybe I should give them a call.

  10. OCBD, I haven’t ordered from Bahle’s in a couple of years but unless they’ve changed their policies a lot I imagine they’ll get you s smaller size if they’re able.

    FWIW, IMO the Harley’s Shetland’s run a bit on the small side and/or close to the torso, so a medium may not be as large as you normally expect.

  11. Harley’s are nice and worth the price point that Bahle’s charges. They are thin for a shetland and hopefully the brushed version is a bit thicker.

  12. Yarn markets have also changed a lot since the 60’s, often for reasons unrelated to clothing tastes. Cashmere yarn prices, for instance, have skyrocketed in the past few years.

  13. I didn’t know that. Nine years ago I reported for the LA Times on its getting cheap and popular, but that may have had to do with manufacturing more than raw materials:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2006/jan/08/magazine/tm-cashmere2

  14. Yes that popularity, especially in emerging markets, has changed the scene a lot. A big factor has been the rise in Chinese goat meat prices – it’s now makes more sense for some herders to kill the goats for meat instead of shear them. (That all has to do with changes in the way yuan was pegged). You see a lot of fashion brands using silk/cashmere and others blends to combat the prices increases.

  15. CC, enjoyed the linked article re cashmere’s history but I the cartoon images on cashmere sweaters is simply TMI for even this non-purist casual trad.

    “… Banana in hand, the whimsical simian (Curious George) now flashes his cheeky smile from the back of a Raw 7 cashmere sweater–price tag $385.” Ditto for Tweety Bird. Hope that awful image doesn’t come back to haunt me next time I wear my beloved camel-colored Scottish cashmere crew neck.

    BTW, re your article’s reference to Pringle’s mid-Victorian cashmere underwear, the merino briefs/boxers offered today from higher end outdoor performance clothing firms – Icebreaker, Ibex, Smartwool, Stoic (my personal fav) and others – is fantastic for both outdoor and around town wear.

  16. Well the site web.archive.org, on the 22nd of December 2010, brings us to the JPress store where the Shetlands are on sale for only $123.75, and originally $165.

  17. Brilliant, Pavel!

  18. I use to order saddle shoulder, crew neck Shetland sweaters direct from the woollen mill factory shop. Often it is possible to have it brushed. The prices are nowhere near what is mentioned in this post. The obvious drawback is that it can be problematic to get the exact shade that you want (over the phone). One has to settle with what they have at the moment.

  19. August West | October 23, 2015 at 2:17 pm |

    I purchased a lambswool v neck directly from Harleys and received it in the mail just last week. A great value at $95 delivered. Considering an additional purchase, I went back to the website a few days ago only to find that it completely changed. It appears they are out of the direct sales game. I’ve emailed them for info.

  20. @August West, please keep us up to date on what you find out. Ordering direct for under $100 would be ideal. Although Bahle’s sounds like great customer service, etc., for $125 I can have a Shetland custom made to my specifications in any color I desire from Spirit of Shetland. Yes, it usually takes 4-6 weeks to get it, but considering that it’s custom made, exactly the way I want it, and inclusive of shipping, it’s a real deal. In my mind, a ready-made sweater needs to price in below $100 in order to compete.

  21. August West | October 26, 2015 at 9:09 am |

    I received a response from Harley, which reads in part “We no longer trade directly but there will soon be a new exclusively online company called Bosie who will be selling our best selling garments amongst their own. They will be online in November and I shall email you their website once I get it.
    We had to commit fully to manufacturing for trade due to unprecedented demand.

    I believe they will have some very good deals on especially during the Black Friday weekend and they will also have access to the full shade card palette.”

  22. Has anyone purchased the O’Connell’s shetland wool sweater? Fit? Weight? Warmth? Value? Satisfaction?

  23. I did last year. I purchased a lagoon green sweater and it was an excellent pick in every way. Thanks to the Ivy blogs for discussing it.

  24. Walt writes: “Has anyone purchased the O’Connell’s shetland wool sweater? Fit? Weight? Warmth? Value? Satisfaction?”

    I have: Fit = close; Weight = relatively lightweight; Warmth, Value, Satisfaction = met expectations. I bought the very fine (IMO) Tobacco color and these are a bit less thick than Shetlands typically used to be but it works OK for me. It seems to cuffs and waist ribbing are not so long as in the past which is perhaps a cost-cutting concession and not to my preference.

    FWIW O’Connell’s seems to sell for $165 the same Harley Shetlands that Bahle’s sells for $125 with some differences in the colors provided.

    Ben Silver sells, I believe, Jamieson Shetlands for $195, which per the photo have the longer cuffs and waist ribbing I prefer but, did I mention, they’re asking $195…?

  25. Because of this post, I blind purchased that RL “bubble-gum pink” sweater (online). And the pink is much louder in person than the muted looking pink in that photo. So beware. Still a good sweater, very soft and “shaggy.” Made is Scotland. Odd that it says “11% cashmere” on the tag. Not 10% or 12%… I just think “1/9” is an odd number.

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