April 2020

Guest Writer: Benedict Browne

As I write this, I’m sitting in my flat in London with me, myself and I – it’s quite an atmosphere, let me tell you – and it’s been this way for two weeks now. The silver lining with this practice of self-isolation is that it has given us all an unprecedented amount of time to reflect, and for me what it’s shown loud and clear is that national unity and shared empathy, in the most inherently good way, are embedded deep within us all.

That might sound absurd to some, but through hardship, we come together, and history has proven that. While unity is now displayed through digital portals of connectivity – thank goodness for House Party, Zoom, WhatsApp and Instagram – we should all look out for one another, be with one another to the best of our capabilities and give thanks to one another.

While you might not be able to give your parents, siblings, partner and friends a hug, a kiss or a fist bump – whatever floats your boat – they can still feel your affection through other means. It’s perhaps here that Johnstons of Elgin, in my opinion, comes to the fore. After all, nothing says ‘I’m thinking of you’ or ‘I’m here for you’ more than a gift during these times, especially one rendered in cashmere no less.

Options are more than aplenty here, especially for men and with ourselves nestled at home, loungewear has perhaps never received so much attention. If you’re still wearing a suit, I applaud you, but I don’t envy you as seamless cashmere joggers are where it’s at. Time to get with the programme, I say, and this season Johnstons' navy iteration ticks all the right boxes. Sure, if you have a Zoom call with the boss, a shirt up top, like this superfine worsted merino wool polo shirt in slate, won’t cause any suspicion of torpidness, but downstairs, they’ll never know..

Elsewhere, hats are a great choice for a gift. If you're like me, the windows in your home will be wide open, to get all the fresh air humanly possible in addition to your one outing a day. The only issue is that it can get a little chilly, but this is where a grey double-layer cashmere beanie – a new design for this season – comes into play and goes to show that even the most nondescript (but essential) articles of clothing Johnstons of Elgin can discreetly elevate.

This situation has also proven to me that wearing shoes can be a bit of a non-essential chore, and by shoes, I mean leather dress shoes which, when you wear them, you know you're awake. Because of this, I've resorted to home clogs from Birkenstock. They might make you look like a gnome or some similar creature but who's looking? They're comfortable, and the saving grace is that I wear them with these men's cashmere socks, which in my opinion are an extravagant but essential luxury. The Arran cable socks are about as comforting as you can possibly get, and once again exhibit Johnston's expertise in knitting. Made in their modern factory in Hawick, no man will ever be ungrateful upon receiving cashmere socks. Trust me.

Last but by no means least is the scarf. It’s one of Johnstons' best-selling product categories and for good reason. It’s the most perfect gift. Endless wearing opportunities with maximum comfort every single time and a vast array of options. The only downside is that they can be ‘temporarily stolen’ by members of one’s family (or maybe that’s just mine?). For this time of year, a lightweight scarf will suffice perfectly and what better than the tissue cashmere blanket scarf? Not only is it wonderfully large, but its lightness makes it a delight to wear and is a direct result of Johnston’s using the finest of fine cashmere yarns they have at their disposal.

I didn’t specify what colour of scarf above I’ve picked as I wanted to end with it. I’ve gone for white, and not to get too biblical but after all, white is the universal colour that symbolises hope, peace and love, and there’s a lot we should take from that. Be kind, be good, stay safe and healthy, and let your loved ones, no matter how far away they might be from you, know that you are thinking of them.

Gift Sets

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