The finest cashmere goods — from Canton
Improbable as it sounds, some of this season’s finest cashmere pieces are being designed in Canton.
The suburb is home to Dawson Forte Cashmere, a merger of Scotland’s Dawson International and Forte, a Woonsocket, R.I., company that supplied many New England spinning mills. Dawson Forte launched in 1998, and Kinross — their cashmere label sold at boutiques nationwide — launched in 2002. They maintain a New York City showroom, but the heart of the business is off of I-95.
A new spring line is available at upscale shops like Beacon Hill’s Holiday Boutique, Concord’s Thistle Hill, and Mahri in Manchester-by-the-Sea.
The detailed designs, such as linen dresses with painted brush strokes and cashmere tops with pleated sleeves, “appeal to someone who appreciates a modern design aesthetic but nothing trendy,” says design vice president Suzanne Pond, who got her start creating theater costumes at Brown University and studied fabric draping at the Rhode Island School of Design. “Our sweet spot is probably women in their 50s and 60s, although we dress the mother and the daughter.”
The company also has a private label business that sells to department stores like Nordstrom and Saks.
Cashmere comes from northern China, home to cashmere-producing goats. Kinross also works with linen and cotton. But people love cashmere.
“It’s soft yet strong; it’s beautiful to drape; it can be worn in all sorts of climates; and it exudes luxury,” says Pond.
Local artists collaborate on the clothing. This season, Kinross worked with RISD students to design a cashmere pleated pullover, with intricate pleated stitching. A linen dress was hand-painted by Italian artists and reproduced. A cotton tape yarn V-neck pullover has a ribbed insert at the hem to give it texture.
“We specialize in elevated basics,” Pond says. “We’re filling a need for thoughtful design and some unique, handcrafted details without being trendy or dated.’’
Pieces range from $140 to $350.