Column: The beauty of a cashmere sweater

A Lisa Reall deisgn. (Photo provided by Lisa Reall)

Most things leave weak impressions and are soon forgotten.

Only the experience of perfection will stay with you over the years. Business is always seeking to provide these ‘perfect products’ which provide the consumer with that “wow moment.”

The “wow” moment occurs when something transcends the field. These experiences are unforgettable.

A few examples of perfection that I have seen include the view from the balcony of the Quisisana Hotel in Capri, the main dining room in the River Café in Brooklyn, Bing Crosby’s voice, Tiger Wood’s golf swing or Mikhail Baryshnikov on stage.

Fashion items can also have perfection.

The “Jackie O” bag by Gucci is one example. True it costs $30,000 but perfection is never cheap.

When I was a child, at the beginning of each summer my father would bring home a big box of really high-end summer sweaters for both myself and my older brother Peter.

It appeared that my father was best friends with Saks Fifth Avenue’s leading buyer and so the buyer would select and put aside some really choice luxury items for us. I can still vividly recall the white silk knit cardigan with a blue and white stripped ribbon along the edging. As both Samuel Beckett remarked in Krapp’s

Last Tape, memory tends to fade, fade, fade away but not when one experiences something perfection.

I know the golf industry best of all and I have only seen five perfect products.

This would include the Ping Anser putter, the Titleist golf ball, the Gustbuster umbrella, the Tour Edge Exotic fairway wood and the Ecco golf shoe. When you use these things you know right away they are better than the competition and have something sublime about them.

And now, finally I have run into a sportswear company than can be included on my list of perfect things in golf.

Say hello to Lisa Reali and Reali New York.

It is clear to me that Italians have s great sense of fashion. Every great product has an interesting back story and this product is no exception. Lisa had the calling to fashion by age 5 when she would sketch the fashion illustrations she saw in the Sunday Times.

By age 14 she was in the High School of Art and Design and then went on to FIT where she won the prestigious Knitwear Designer of the Future Award. She was immediately hired by Liz Claiborne and over time was promoted to head designer.

But this is where the wrinkle occurred.

When Lisa began to have children she could not bear to be away from them for business travel so she left the industry to raise her kids.

As luck would have it she became a ‘golf mom’ as her children became good amateur golfers.

This meant that Lisa Reali spent many hours in golf pro shops waiting for her kids to finish their tournaments. And she began to observe a gap in the sportswear in these pro shops. There was really no luxury sportswear to be found anywhere.

Lots of golf shirts, khaki pants, socks and spikes but no high end luxury cashmere.

This insight gave birth to Reali New York and ‘elevated knitwear for men’. Her website ( reads “We are a New York-based modern menswear company designed for the gentleman who lives a considered lifestyle.”

When I asked her what she meant by a ‘considered lifestyle’ she explained that her garments are designed for the discerning gentleman who also has a sense of ethics. All her sweaters and pants are made of cashmere and Merino wool and her company has received the “Cradle to Cradle” gold imprimatur which means that all her products are manufactured in a sustainable and ethical manner.

The goats from which they get their cashmere are raised by nomadic Mongolian herdsmen who feed the herd only organic and healthy diets and the cashmere is then are shipped to and woven by Italy’s Botto Giuseppe in the north of Italy.

She designs all the menswear herself and her market is discerning gentlemen who are engaged in sports like golf, tennis, boating or polo and for the man who likes to travel and wear comfortable causal wear.

Her sweaters have the feel of luxury, quality and softness.

The only really good dresser I have seen on the golf course is the great amateur player Buddy Marucci of Philadelphia. He would always be invited to player in the Travis Invitational and I remember two things about Buddy.

His swing was as smooth as Bing Crosby’s voice and he wore the most gorgeous cashmere sweaters. Well now I don’t have to ask him where he bought his sweaters because I can get even better ones from Lisa.

The English humorist P.G. Wodehouse’s believed that good clothes could make you play better golf. Perhaps he was right.

Lisa Reali is launching her new company this year and the sports world has been waiting for something like this for a long time.

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