The Irish are a talented bunch. We all know that they are good at singing (tell me you’re not a fan of The Corrs, or U2), acting (Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson and Stuart Townsend, just to name a few) and drinking, but did you know that they have also contributed significantly to the world of fashion?
For starters, there’s Philip Treacey, milliner extraordinaire to the stars (Lady Gaga, SJP and Princess Beatrice have all been adorned by his fantastical creations); J.W. Anderson, whose every design makes my heart beat 46% faster (specially this top); and new comer (but from serious designer lineage) Simone Rocha, champion of modern femininity, has gained cult status among the seriously hip It-girls. And it’s no wonder, for a nation that is so richly steeped in history and heritage, the Irish sure knows a thing or two about classic design and traditional craftsmanship.
Recently I had the good fortune of being introduced to such an Irish establishment: Aran Sweater Market. This world famous knitwear label has been around since 1892, yet its timeless designs continue to inspire modern fashion labels from Mulberry to Michael Kors. You may recall this stunning photoshoot by Annie Leibovitz in last year’s US Vogue showcasing Daria Werbowy wearing Aran knitwear.
There’s a really informative video about the history and heritage behind Aran Sweater Market. The music reminds me of The Hobbit and the scenery is equally mesmerizing. I learnt so many fun facts about the knitwear label! For example, did you know that their sweater knitting techniques were first developed by the Celts in 1st century AD? They used to weave thick ropes to make blankets to keep warm against the elements. Or that stitches like the cable knit were inspired by the nets and ropes of fishermen? Or that each individual knit pattern has its own meaning (for example, the cable represents good luck and the diamond, wealth), and that each Irish family clan have their unique combination of stitches and patterns?!
I’ve been wearing knits and wool sweaters all my life. But it wasn’t until I discovered Aran Sweater Market that I had the opportunity to experience the real deal: hand-knitted in Ireland from 100% Merino wool, super soft and super warm. This cape is my new travel companion. With cable knits being the new black this season (don’t believe me? Have a squizzy [HERE]), I’m so glad that I found its original birthplace.