Thursday 22 June 2017

The Aran jumper just got a stylish new makeover (and here's how you can wear it)

Alexa Chung wearing an Aran jumper in 2013
Gigi Hadid wearing a black Aran jumper on the streets of Manhattan on December 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
A cyclist wearing an Aran jumper with a polo neck in 1961. (Photo by Chaloner Woods/Getty Images)
Michael Kors featured an Aran jumper in 2014
Courtney Smith at the launch of the new SS17 International Designer Collections at Brown Thomas. Picture: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Introducing the modern day Aran jumper.

The cable knit classic has become less Playboy of the Western World and more of a piece to be seen in - an item you wear to stand out on your timeline among a sea of near-identical style stars on Instagram.

So we have good news for the fashionista brave enough to be the first to wear it among her friends - The Irish Store, which hosts a collection of clothing, accessories and homewares by Irish designers for an international market, has launched their latest "re-imagining" of the classic Aran cardigan designed New York based-Irish designer DarylK.

The Dubliner said she was inspired to add a modern twist to the vintage garment on a scenic walk back on home soil.

Alexa Chung wearing an Aran jumper in 2013
Alexa Chung wearing an Aran jumper in 2013

"One time myself and Lulu were taking a walk along this beautiful beach in Donegal. We were talking about Aran sweaters and I was telling Lulu about how I really wanted to design an Aran in a new yarn. I wanted it to be light, airy and soft and to have the colors of this dramatic Irish seascape," she explained.

Model Abby Harris stars in the new campaign, which highlights two styles t- the The Boyfriend Cardigan and The Aran Cardigan and is available in colours like Ocean Teal and Atlantic Slate.

It's a significant turn in making the jumper more accessible - former international model Faye Dinsmore, who is married to Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave, launched her own range Dinsmore Handknit Aran, in 2014 and regularly provides inspiration to her Instagram followers for styling unisex day-to-day looks.

But this comeback has been a long time coming - in fact, it can be traced back to 2013 when Alexa Chung first wore one to a Topshop show during London Fashion Week and later, when British Vogue profiled the item declaring it the "jumper of the season".

Maybe over doing the mismatched textures! #Aran #fringe

A post shared by Faye Dinsmore (@faye_dinsmore) on

After variations of the piece appeared on the runway for Michael Kors, Alexander Wang and Joseph, the high street listened.

Designer Kors told Vogue at the time it had the potential to become a modern classic, saying: "It has stood the test of time because it's chic and practica. When the temperature dips, everyone wants a knit that looks good and feels amazing.

"The Aran is a lasting design of beautiful craftsmanship and texture; it's universally flattering and is incredibly versatile, too; it works well with almost anything."

Top stylist Courtney Smith said the piece has finally evolved from the high fashion runways and trickled into high street stores as an unexpected way to add some edge to your oufit. 

Gigi Hadid wearing a black Aran jumper on the streets of Manhattan on December 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
Gigi Hadid wearing a black Aran jumper on the streets of Manhattan on December 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)

"I’ve definitely noticed an increase in popularity in the last couple of years, it's taken a little longer to trickle down on high street and influence customers buying habits," she told independent.ie

"Nearly two years ago, Vogue did a whole feature on the Aran knit being back in fashion and Alexa Chung wore one to an event in 2013, she wore it with a PVC skirt - and like an 'it' girl can, she took something like that and made it her own by mixing it with high fashion and showing the masses how this piece can be worn in a way you wouldn’t expect.

"Once Vogue picks up on something, it takes about a year for the average Joe to see it on the red carpet and being worn by celebrities and know it's safe to wear it."

As one of the busiest stylists in the land, she's no stranger to experimenting with fabrics to make each shoot unique and sometimes, that requires thinking outside the box.

Michael Kors featured an Aran jumper in 2014
Michael Kors featured an Aran jumper in 2014

"I did a shoot for a men's magazine last year - with mens style, it's quite rustic and it really worked in the scenario. We did layering and Aran knits and teamed it with leather jacket. It's no longer just the jumper that originated from the Aran Islands and only worn by people in Galway and the Cliffs of Moher."

And how should women wear it?

"There's two different ways – you can go the Alexa route, which is completely contrasting it with a piece you would’t except like PVC or leather. Or you can tut it with a pair of jeans, boots or runners and do the under-styled look," Courtney added.

"That simplicity I styling is back again – looking like you have thrown it together and run out the door."

Isabel Marant gave it equally high praise and considers it an iconic piece in anyone's wardrobe - no matter what part of the world you live in.

"There are iconic garments such as blue jeans, the white T-shirt and military jacket that are so well achieved you will never tire of them, and the Aran knit belongs to that category."

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