Steeped in Irish heritage and mythology, the traditional Aran Sweater originated off the West Coast of Ireland in the 1890s and has remained a fashion staple since the 1950s when Grace Kelly and Steve McQueen were spotted in the iconic garment.
The Aran Sweater comes from the Aran Islands, a small group of islands off the West coast of Ireland. Traditionally, it is off-white in colour and has cable patterns on the body and sleeves. Water-resistant and ideal for fishing, knitters used unwashed wool that retained its natural oils. A finished Aran sweater contains approximately 100,000 carefully constructed stitches and can take the knitter up to sixty days to complete.
Knitting was first encouraged on the Aran Islands in the late 1890s by the Congested District Board of Ireland as an alternative to fishing and agriculture. It became famous overnight during the 50s and 60s when Irish folk band The Clancy Brothers appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in their Aran Jumpers. Vogue Magazine published sweater patterns in 1956, and Grace Kelly and Steve McQueen were pictured wearing the now-iconic sweater.
The Aran Sweater recently stared alongside other iconic fashion pieces like the Birkin Bag and Levi jeans in a major new exhibition, ‘Is Fashion Modern?’ at the New York MoMA The Museum of Modern Art in October 2017, and Alexander McQueen recently designed and gifted their own version of the Aran Sweater to press and fashion editors at their Autumn Winter 2018 fashion show in Paris.