Humble Aran jumper back in vogue with world-renowned designers such as Alexander Wang and Valentino
Published 21/11/2015 | 15:16
It was once the staple wear of the Clancy Brothers and Val Doonican - but now the Aran jumper has made a stunning second coming to the fashion world.
The traditional Irish white woollen garment first became a must-have item back in 1961 after being worn by the popular Clancys on the legendary Ed Sullivan Show, and then sported by super-cool Hollywood icons including Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, Ryan O'Neal, Grace Kelly and others.
And now Arans are back in vogue with world-renowned designers such as Alexander Wang and Valentino and appearing on the London, New York, Paris and Milan catwalks.
The 'statement knits' have become de rigueur in this year's major autumn/winter collections, with designers opting to pair them up with jeans and pencil skirts.
And, of course, there's a hefty price tag to match the popularity, with Valentino's Agnona camel cashmere Aran, for instance, topping £1,200.
That's quite a hike when you can buy a traditional Aran jumper for around €70 in Ireland.
Paul Sally, manager of Carrolls Irish Gifts, said he had noticed an increased interest in Aran knitwear.
"We have always had demand from international customers, but we now have a growing local customer interest in our collection," he added.
"Our autumn/winter 2015 collection features classic and modern designs in both traditional and bright colour palates."
Mr Sally, who oversees branches at Castle Place and Donegall Place in Belfast, said the his shops "sell high quality items at reasonable prices".
Of course, consumers can also pick up imitation jumpers at cheaper stores, for less.
Designers can take liberties with the Aran name because it isn't protected, so basically anyone can make a sweater and put the word 'Aran' on it.
Demand for the traditional Aran, made in rural Ireland, remains strong worldwide.