August Post: The Aran Jumper

The Aran jumper is experiencing a resurgence as of late on the fashion scene. It is an iconic piece identified with romantic symbolism and Irish heritage.

As the name suggests the Aran jumper originates from the Aran islands off the west coast of Ireland. There are many romantic myths about the Aran jumper which no doubt helped it gain fame in the fashion industry. However, contrary to speculation of the origin of the Aran jumper, it appeared in the first years of the 20th century.

The influence of the Aran jumper and its survival is an admirable example of lasting design and creative originality. It is being continuously reinvented; inspiring designers and brands such as Lainey Keogh, Jean Paul GaultierIsabel MarantMassimo Dutti, Burberry and Valentino.


Modern day runway knits inspired by the Aran jumper. These give a re-inventive twist on the jumper by playing with length and colour compared to traditional designs as worn by Grace Kelly and Steve McQueen (pictured below).


Traditional Aran knits worn by Grace Kelly (left) and actor Steve McQueen (right).

Many people will be familiar with pictures of the Aran jumper worn by the Clancy brothers, Steve McQueen, Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe to name but a few. It epitomises cool and has been worn in more modern times by Alexa Chung (who actually released a chunky Aran jumper as part of her range with Madewell) and even Liam Gallagher. Most recently it has made an appearance in the August edition of Vogue Paris magazine worn by the Irish hurler/model Oisin Murphy (featured image).

This reminds me of a visit to Brown Thomas where I met my friend, Faye Dinsmore, who’s also elevating the Aran jumper for the modern day by creating her own innovative knits and designs. She’s recently had her jumpers displayed in Brown Thomas and is clearly doing a great job at showcasing and supporting the Irish design industry. What’s particularly striking to me is her bright yellow jumper as pictured below, which is so visually impacting and pushes the boundaries on the traditional knit!


Faye Dinsmore modelling a traditional grey Aran jumper (Sourced from Refinery29. Left) and her own knit designs as modelled by Laura O’Grady and Aine O’Gorman (Sourced from Right).


Some great casual and modern takes on the classic Aran jumper. (sourced from Pinterest)

What I particularly like about the Aran jumper is its versatility. They can be worn for every type of occasion and compliment a wide variety of outfits. The size does not particularly matter, it can be worn loose and long or as a tight fit. Most importantly, it is extremely comfortable and cosy and can be dressed up or down.

Traditionally, it is made with an off white colour, however, there are many different variations of style and colour appearing with designers adding their own identity but keeping the iconic fundamentals. Personally, I think this is fantastic. By continually adapting the Aran jumper it keeps it cool and relevant in the fashion world. This can’t be done with any product and primarily it comes down to its timeless and original design. Even though various versions of the jumper exist, it remains unmistakably recognisable and associated with being Irish.


Alexa Chung in a modern version of an Aran jumper (left). Aran jumpers exhibited in MoMA designed by Laduma Ngxokolo (centre) and one from the 1940s loaned by by the National Museum of Ireland at Turlough Park, Castlebar, Mayo (right).

The Aran jumper is so globally renowned that a hand-knitted jumper from 1941 went on exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art in New York last year. The exhibition entitled ‘Is Fashion Modern?’ chose 111 items of clothing and accessories that had a strong impact on the world in the 20th and 21st century and continue to do so today. As part of the exhibition South African knitwear designer Laduma Ngxokolo was commissioned by the museum to create a unique jersey inspired by the Aran jumper showcasing that the jumper still exists today.



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