Aran Sweaters… A Fashion History

The Aran sweater has remained both timeless and fashionable through out the decades. It is comfortable, stylish and representative of Irish heritage.

The Beginning

The sweater takes its name from the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland and is most recognisable for its cable patterns and its 100% wool fabric.

It is unknown when Aran Sweaters were first made, but they were first sold in 1892 with the help of the Congested Districts Board for Ireland initiative.

The great quality of the Aran sweater is one of the reasons for its popularity, so it is no surprise that the islands fisherman were the first to wear the sweater. Some of the first Aran sweaters were even waterproof, crafting the sweater with wool that retained its natural oil, making it water-resistant!



Patons of England published the first commercially available Aran knitting patterns in the 1940s.



In the 50s Vogue magazine published articles on the sweater, Marilyn Monroe was a fan! Aran sweater exports from the west of Ireland to the United States began.

The development of the export trade during the 50s and 60s saw knitting become an important part of the islands' economy.



Irish Folk music group, The Clancy Brothers and Ted Maken, adopted the Aran Sweater as their trademark on-stage garment. In the early 60s they appeared onThe Ed Sullivan Show and in a special televised performance for US PresidentJohn F Kennedy, wearing Aran Sweaters.Grace Kelly, Steve McQueen and Twiggy were avid fans of the Aran Sweater.

steve mcqueen


During the 70s the Aran Sweater continued to grow in popularity and the cable stitching style wasnt just restricted to Sweaters, designers started using the stitch for dresses, skirts, tops and ponchos!

70s poncho


The Aran Sweater was even able to keep up with the 80s cropped trend! The Breakfast Club star, Molly Ringwald, famously posed with a cropped Aran Sweater for Seventeen magazine.

molly 80s

The garment also made in appearance in the movie St.Elmo's Fire, Andy McDowall showed how on trend an oversized Aran Sweater could be.

andy mcdowel 80s


None other than top super model Kate Moss revived the Aran sweater during the androgynous decade. The Aran sweater was styled with drainpipe skinny jeans and chunky boots.

Ad campaign for Banana Republic, 1992.

2000 - Now

The Aran Sweater looks like its here to stay! Famous designer fashion houses, Alexander McQueen, Burberry and Michael Kors (to name a few) continually feature Aran Sweaters as one of their key Autumn/Winter pieces. The Aran sweaters quality, comfort and beautiful stitching makes it a timeless classic and it is easy to see why it is a favourite of the stars!


Leave a Reply

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.