Six Interesting Facts About the Aran Sweater

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With the dark, cold, wintry nights upon us and frosty mornings, thoughts turn to keeping warm and snug. The Aran sweater is an iconic item famous for doing just that. Here are some interesting facts about this most famous of exports from Ireland.

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1.  The Aran Islands – Where It All Began
The iconic sweater takes its name from the Aran islands, a trio of islands located at the most westerly tip of Ireland and just off the coast of County Galway.

The first Aran sweaters were knitted by the women of the islands to provide a protective layer of clothing for the islander farmers and fishermen. The intricate stitching patterns that make the sweater so recognisable were from family patterns, kept as closely guarded secrets and passed on from generation to generation.

2. The Original Waterproof Sweater for Fishermen
The Aran sweater first designed for fishermen was surprisingly waterproof. This was due to the yarn they used that was unscoured. The natural lanolin within unscoured wool is what makes this type of wool water-resistant. For fishermen braving all weathers out on the Atlantic Ocean this made the waterproof mens Irish Aran sweater a perfect item of clothing.

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3. Craftsmanship Creating Works of Art
The sheer intricacy and skill involved in crafting an Aran sweater should not be underestimated, and experts today are continually amazed at the painstaking construction, stitching and design that the Aran knitters used in their creation.

4. An Iconic Status
The Aran sweater, available from, became very popular as a fashion item in the 1930s and 40s. Then in the 1950s, after Grace Kelly had appeared on the front cover of Vogue magazine, this sweater that was once a garment for fishermen braving the seas gained iconic status.

5. Famous Admirers
In the 1960s, an appearance of Irish folk group The Clancy Brothers on the Ed Sullivan show introduced it to millions of homes across America, and famous admirers of the sweater included Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and Steve McQueen.

6. Fashion History
In 2017, the Aran sweater was exhibited at New York’s Museum of Modern Art at an exhibition of 111 items of clothing that also included the likes of the Wonderbra, the biker jacket and Levi jeans – all items considered important in influencing the last 100 years of fashion.

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