From humble fisherman’s sweater to seasonal catwalk staple, the Aran sweater has become a modern classic, beloved by both tourists and high fashion mavens alike. Once simply a functional item of clothing, the Aran cable knit sweater has been worn by everyone from Hollywood icons to supermodels and recently featured in the exhibition Is Fashion Modern at The Museum of Modern Art in New York - further cementing its place as an iconic fashion design item. At Showcase 2019, you’ll find several brands who specialise in the Aran knit, as well as those who bring a wider range of knitwear or a contemporary take on the classic to the show.
As a visitor to the new-look Showcase website you will have been struck by our quirky, fun take on the Aran or cable knit sweater in the form of a full knitted bodysuit, created by Showcase exhibitors Irelands Eye in collaboration with young Irish knitwear designer Pearl Reddington and Kasia Ozmin of Together We Create. The concept was to take this classic item of clothing, with strong associations to Ireland, and to reimagine it in a fresh, contemporary way. Buyers may note with some relief however that the usual collection of Irelands Eye includes fewer full knitted bodysuits and many more classic and contemporary takes on the cable knit sweater, while the company also reports that it has seen a steady rise in the number of consumers opting for cable knits as fashion statement, alongside the tourist market, proving that the Aran jumper is firmly on the assent in the fashion stakes.
Pearl Reddington, who designed the cable knit bodysuit for the Showcase website, is just one of a new generation of Irish knitwear designers embracing the Aran. However, by injecting her trademark neon accent into her designs, she has completely reinvigorated it to result in a fresh, contemporary take on the classic. Pearl’s Aran jumpers are hand-knitted by knitter Maireád Uí Fhlátharta on Inis Oirr - the smallest of the Aran islands off the west coast of Ireland.
The status of the Aran sweater as a classic fashion item has not been lost on many international design houses who produce variations on the cable knit season after season. Designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Paul Costelloe are just two designers who have played with the Aran motif over the years. For Autumn/ Winter 2018 brands such as Gucci and Maison Margiela reimagined the Aran for a whole new audience, while at Alexander McQueen, personalised Aran sweaters were placed on the backs of the guests’ chairs during Paris Fashion Week.
Back at Showcase, you’ll find a number of companies catering to the demand for the Aran knit including Bonner of Ireland who produce both traditional and contemporary styles of knitwear, Fishermen out of Ireland - a contemporary premium knitwear company which exports 70 percent of garments made to international customers, Castle of Ireland who produce beautiful knitwear with a modern twist, family business Aran Woollen Mills who produce a range of knitwear for men, women, children and the home and the award-winning Aine Knitwear. Also showing for 2019 are independent knitwear designers Edmund McNulty, Ros Duke and Linda Wilson who offer their own unique takes on Irish knitwear heritage to produce beautiful, modern garments for a contemporary audience.