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Crafting comfort with Begg x Co

The Scottish cashmere specialists have been weaving winter warmers since 1866. This season, they turn their hands to creating two responsibly made blankets for COS, rooted in circular design and inspired by a heritage rich in local tradition.

Nestled in an ancient stretch of rugged mountains and cinematic coastlines of the Ayrshire region of West Scotland is one of two homes to the mills of Begg x Co. For the other, you need to travel in-land to Hawick – a small, historic town dubbed ‘The Home of Cashmere’ due to its pivotal role in the industrial revolution. ‘The heritage of our past inspires us and informs what we do’, explains Ian Laird (he/him), CEO of Begg x Co. ‘But we don’t want to live in the past. We want to embrace the modern world and use the best techniques to create the best products.’

Though some of their machines may be over 100 years old, there’s nothing dated about their approach – using traceable, responsibly sourced fibres and looking after the people in their production process. ‘We take a holistic approach’, explains Ian. ‘Responsibility to our people, product and planet is at our core. Whether it’s leading the way in sourcing traceable wools or through local projects to empower our community.’

Their modern approach extends to colour too, opting for bold, unexpected shades to make people feel good. ‘We’ve always been known as leading colourists in our field’, shares Oscar Macdonald (he/him), Global Commercial Director at Begg x Co. ‘We really embrace colour and have seen our products as a vehicle for self-expression from day one.’

To find out more, we caught up with Ian and Oscar to tell us more about their exclusive designs for COS and to find out what’s in the water that makes Scottish wool so special…

ON SCOTTISH HERITAGE

‘It’s whisky that makes it special’, jokes Ian. ‘Well, at least, it’s the same reason that makes the whisky special in Scotland. The water that we use to finish the yarns is softer than other types of water – which is a really important part of the process if you want to achieve the softest finish.’

‘Scotland is where the expertise lies. There are craftspeople who have been working for us for over 40 years, as well as new apprentices, so there’s such a great wealth of skill and innovation around.’


ON THE DESIGN PROCESS
‘There are around 35 different processes that go into the production of a blanket. Which sounds ridiculous when you think it’s just a piece of cloth. But the level of care, compassion and artisanal craft that goes into every piece is huge.’

‘Behind each step of the process, there’s a pair of hands. For example, the fringes will be cut by hand – which is a really nice finishing touch.’

‘We always start with the question: “What does beautiful look like?” Every step is vital in making the best-in-class products.’

‘A well-made blanket will bring you comfort for many years to come. The world can be a crazy place at times and sometimes you need to just sit on the sofa, wrap up and escape the world.’

ON CRAFTING FOR COS

‘The blanket sums up both COS and Begg x Co perfectly. There are elements of Scottishness, such as the check design, but with a contemporary twist to project it towards a more optimistic, sustainable future.’

‘It’s 90% lambswool and 10% cashmere, which will make it warm, extremely soft and strong enough to be used over and over again. As with most of our designs, the fibres are responsibly sourced and fully traceable.’

‘For the check, the COS team provided us with a pattern and we started playing with the proportions. The finished piece is a zoomed-in version of the design, which creates enlarged check structures to give it a modern feel.’

‘The two colourways are inspired by our Scottish origins. The blue represents the location of our mills by the Scottish sea and using the waters in the finishing process. The brown is a nod to the natural colours of cashmere and how this is at the heart of our brand.’


ON LASTING LUXURY

‘To make your blanket last longer, you should air it rather than wash it. This will get rid of dust and reshape the fibres to bring the softness back. If you have a stain, simply dab it with sparkling water (Scottish, of course), as the bubbles will help lift any dirt trapped in the material.’

‘The beauty of a well-made blanket is that it will bring you comfort for many years to come. The world can be a crazy place at times and sometimes you need to just sit on the sofa, wrap up and escape the world. There is something in cocooning yourself in the softness of cashmere that will always make you feel well looked after and protected.’

‘We believe that responsible business practices will both future proof our brand and reduce our impact on the world around us. We have committed to reducing waste in our supply chain, increasing the use of recycled materials and leveraging circular business models to help close the loop.’


If, in the future, you decide to part ways with your COS blanket, you can take it back to any Begg x Co location and receive £40 in store credit. Every blanket that is given back will either be refreshed and resold or recycled into a new yarn to create new products.


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