Cashmere may not be the first fabric you think of throwing on your head on a rainy day, or on a run, or if you’re doing anything other than remaining still and looking pretty—but what if it could be? What if, as a New Yorker, you could wear one of our city’s most collectively loved winter items—the beanie—only, have it be made of the very tips of the softest goat hair (i.e. cashmere), look classically beautiful, and not worry about ruining this downy luxury, no matter the wintry mix that falls from the sky, because—incredibly—this magical beanie is water-resistant, too.
This is no bogus fantasy, this hat now exists. In a very exciting collaboration between Bird—Brooklyn’s excellent women’s clothing boutique that first opened in Park Slope in 1999, and now has stores in Williamsburg, Carroll Gardens, and Park Slope—and Active Cashmere, a performance-based cashmere manufacturer from New York City, a new breed of beanie is born. And at Bird’s Grand Street location tomorrow night, Bird launches its first private label design with Active Cashmere. While you debate whether you’d like your first stain-resistant and washable cashmere in navy, Bordeaux, charcoal, denim blue, or peony pink, you can also view luxury fabric of another kind: On view will be more than 20 Gouache-painted gorgeous textile piles from Brooklyn Artist Hilary Pharr in her show Immaterial.
Active Cashmere was founded by brothers and New York natives Danny and Roy Hakimian, who go by the name DanRoy. Their father had long run a cashmere company, working with yarn manufacturers in Scotland, so the boys grew up with some very nice sweaters. Danny, however, was a serious skier, and the boys’ mother was loath to watch her son ruin all that cashmere as he sweated and cut his way down ski hills.
When it came time for Danny and Roy to take reins of the business, the brothers saw a golden opportunity: Active Cashmere developed a secret treatment, applied to the cashmere yarn before production, that lets you wash it, sweat in it, and generally really wear it without worrying about the forecast or your own clumsiness (or Danny’s proclivity for playing sports in it).
Roy says the collaboration with Bird owner Jennifer Mankins and all the “lovely amazing women at Bird” was a dream. Bird had been looking to create a private label design, and so brought the idea for the beanie, the design itself, and the color selection, to Roy and Danny who then applied their technical fabric expertise (a tighter-knit yarn with more surface area that is not too heavy and very breathable), and, of course, that secret water-repellant treatment.
It was also those lovely Bird ladies who found Brooklyn artist Hilary Pharr on Instagram. Pharr has a full-time job in textile design and says, “I’m around fabric every day, and always thinking about patterns.” So it makes sense that she would be inspired by that which surrounds her, resulting in these surprising, beautiful works.
It’s the perfect, unexpected art compliment to the completely unexpected—but thank god somebody finally invented it—Bird-designed cashmere hat, and a New Yorker’s winter dream come true. Now you can finally wear your beanie with absolutely everything, all winter long, and not have it turn into a water-drenched, pill-y disaster come spring.
Active Cashmere x Bird beanies that never say die debut Thursday, November 19, from 6 – 9pm at Bird, 203 Grand Street Williamsburg and sell for $155; paintings from Hilary Pharr in her show Immaterial also on view. See more piles of her beautiful fabrics at hilarypharr.com.