Not Just Any Cashmere!


It’s an extremely hot morning, even for my neck of the desert on this mid September day. 

But, I have some free time (rare these days) and I’m doing some thrifting!

I approach my car and quickly realize I forgot to drop off some items yesterday that I had loaded in it, which resembles a pack of sardines. How could I forget? Ugh.

So, I drop off the items and continue on my way.

I make a couple of stops resulting in nada, and continue to my last destination. 

After micro rummaging, (a trait of mine that sometimes leads to bad thrift results) for what seems to be hours, my eye spots an item. 

A few feet down the rack, there’s a color, shape and texture, and like an old hound dog I snoop it out. 

I’m not disappointed as I draw near. I pull back the rack and once again I am pleased with my bad self for instinctively sniffing out this treasure with my second thrift sense.

It just happens to be a Bernhard Altmann Cashmere Sweater in Blush Pink and it’s in perfect condition!

 The overlapped knitted round neckline only adds to its perfection. And may I mention the perfect shiny cream faux shell buttons? Of course I may. 

What draws me to this sweater is not only the look and feel of the softest cashmere ever, but the history of these sweaters.

I won’t go into super detail here, but what I will do is provide a summary so you can know “The rest of the story”.

This man Bernard Altmann was an Austrian Textile manufacturer and he was born in the late 1800’s. He lived a long full life by the way!

Here is where it gets interesting….

He was Jewish, lived in Vienna and ran a successful business ( Jewish duh) and then was forced to shut down by the German Anschluss during the holocaust and fled to London. 

His bro Fritz was not so fortunate and was taken captive. 

Bernhard was forced to sell his business to get his brother released. So his resilient self moves to London in 1938. 

Once again, he starts a business, and by 1939 only one short year later, bad news strikes again and Bam!  Due to the “Alien Enemy Act”  he’s forced once again to shut down. 

Finally, he migrates to the U S of A to a small place called Fall River, Massachusetts and what??? He loses all his assets! 

He then moves to New York City, takes a job for 50.00 bucks a week, and by 1947 he’s introducing  a super cool cashmere line of sweaters and opens a factory in Texas!

By 1951 it was reported that 1 out of 3 sweaters sold in the U.S. were his! Wow what a struggle he went through but kept getting back up again! There is so much more to this man and his story that I’m not mentioning, it would make for a real history lesson and not a fashion blog!

But, I just have to mention this….

It just so happens that his sister in law was the Jewish heiress Marie Altmann, married to Fritz, and it was Marie that was noted for her successful legal campaign against the Austrian Government in retrieving 5 stolen paintings by the Artist Gustav Klimt owned by her family before the holocaust. These were just a drop in the bucket of the stolen artwork from families during that time by the Nazis. Okay so this campaign was a pretty big deal and although I am an absolute NOT “I am woman hear me roar”, I must mention she was one of the first, not only people, but woman to ever accomplish that feat! And maybe this is just me, but… I believe her clever little self had something to do with his ad campaign for his sweaters cause um check out these ads! To cool for sure.

And the one below, she’s all like ” What? This little ole thang?”

Okay so there is one more thing I forgot to mention ….

Marie had agreed, in fact, to sell her brother in laws sweaters in the U.S.  for him somewhere in between these horrendous trials he experienced. Over the years there have been many who have confused these sweaters with being her line, when in fact it never was. She is an interesting read as well.

So once again people … the clothing industry runs hand in hand with specific times lines in history and I always find it intriguing how 

inner-linked they really are! 

Happy Thrifting or  in this case Happy History! 




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