Several months ago, the British company Smart Turnout provided us with two sweaters and one weekender canvas bag for review. Meanwhile, I have had ample opportunity to test these products and today I would like to present you with the results.
Initially, I learned about Smart Turnout when I was writing an article about a Tennis Sweater, which is essentially the same as a cricket jumper. I stumbled upon the website because they offer no less than 25 different color variations of their cricket sweaters in long sleeve and sleeveless (knit vest) versions! The pattern options include British military colors, so-called Old School colors from Eton or Marlborough, and American Ivy League University colors. According to Smart Turnout, all of these cricket jumpers are handmade and sometimes it can take up to four weeks to knit one of these sweaters. Our cricket jumper came in the standard off-white / ivory color and had red accents.
Although I do have a 44 inch chest, I opted for a size medium – 42 inches, and boy am I glad that I did not choose a larger size! These Smart Turnout sweaters run large; for example, the shoulder width of the sweater is 21”, the chest is 22” and the length is 30.5” when laying flat. However, just like every knit garment, it is stretchy and can easily accommodate measurements that are larger than the label. Personally, I think the shoulder width is too wide for a size M, especially for a sweater, but I suppose this is their traditional sizing. Some of the sweaters are also offered in size small – 40” and all of them are also available in large – 44” and extra large – 46”.
As mentioned above, the sweaters are hand knit in England for Smart Turnout and feel rather heavy. A test on the scale reveals that my sweater weighs in at about 26 ounces (735 grams), which is a good weight for a winter sweater. The pure new wool feels just like it should, a little coarse, robust and by no means anything like cashmere. It also kept me very warm wherever I went and I can assure you it would definitely be too warm for me to play either tennis or cricket in it. Overall, the body and a sleeve have a neatly knitted cable knit pattern; the sleeves and the cuffs are ribbed.
The tag recommends that you bring it to the dry cleaner or wash it carefully by hand, but if you have a good washing machine with a handwash program you should have no problems washing it on your own. As always with wool sweaters: do not let them soak or hang them up wet, otherwise it stretches and gets even bigger.
Priced at $280, the Smart Turnout tennis sweater is certainly not a steal, but you must bear in mind that it was handmade in the UK, not in Asia or other low cost countries. Moreover, Smart Turnout has probably the largest selection of cricket sweater patterns to choose from and therefore I think the price is absolutely fair. It’s also worth factoring the classic style and colors into your consideration of the price – it’s certainly not a one-season trendy piece.
Merino Wool Sweater
In contrast to the cricket jumper, the Smart Turnout merino sweater was very different – although it was also a medium sized v-neck.
First of all, the sweater is black with white squares and feels considerably thinner than the cricket jumper. A comparison on the scale shows that it only weighs 12.5 ounces or 350 grams, which is less than half of the first knit garment!
Moreover, it was finely knitted by machine in Italy and not the UK. It also has an embroidered silver grey lion on the chest, whereas the cricket jumper bears no logo at all.
Most importantly though, it fits considerably slimmer than the wool sweater, which is confirmed by the measurements. It measures only 16 inches in shoulder width (-4 inches than the cricket sweater) , 19.5 inches in the chest (-2.5″)and 29 in length (-1.5″). As such the wearer looks very different in these two sweaters.
With regards to the quality of the wool, only time will tell how good it actually is. So far, everything has been fine and no pilling has appeared. Generally, it feels much softer and looking at it, one might assume it is made of cotton!
Priced at $149, it is almost half as expensive as the cricket jumper, but you also get just half the amount of wool, and it only comes in one color: black with white squares. Although I do like the pattern very much, I think this kind of sweater is much more readily available elsewhere whereas the range of cricket jumpers is definitely something very unique to Smart Turnout.
Overall, both sweaters could hardly be more different, and yet each of them has its purpose: the cricket jumper is ideal for all kinds of preppy outfits and it is so thick that it almost has to be worn without a coat. The black sweater on the other hand would be great for spring and early fall, or for lightweight packing for travel.
Yale Holdall Canvas Bag
Last but not least, I want to write a little bit about the Smart Turnout Canvas Holdall. It measures 20x12x12 inches and provides enough room for a short weekend stay at a lake or on the beach and it also looks rather appealing in my opinion. However, when we tested this bag on weekends and as a carry on, it did not perform as expected. The handles were not strongly attached, causing them to pull away at the seams and leave a hole into the canvas. With continuous use, the holes got bigger. Of course, we also contacted Smart Turnout and they are now working together with a new manufacturer of canvas bags in the UK in order to fix these design issues. We hope that these bags will perform better but for the time being, we cannot recommend recommend the Yale Holdall Canvas bag.
The Smart Turnout sweaters are definitely a good buy, especially when considering that you will probably not find a similarly extensive cricket jumper collection elsewhere. As mentioned, the Smart Turnout Canvas Bag is not recommended by us due to the faulty product design.
All Smart Turnout London products can be purchased online at www.smartturnout.com.