What is the history of the fisherman’s jumper?

Fisher man sweaters were first knitted in the 1800s for practical reasons. They increased in popularity during the 1950s and 60s, when they became a fashionable wardrobe choice for men.


The history and heritage of the fisher man sweater stems from the fishermen of the Aran Islands, who conducted their work in the cold waters during frosty winters and often in perilous conditions. The wives and mothers of these hardworking men would lovingly knit and craft the jumpers, not only to keep them warm and snug whilst working but also to convey messages of love. They would often knit in communal groups, sharing their passion for their craft.

Image credit


Each family had its own pattern and stitches. Unfortunately, as many of these men were lost at sea, the pattern on their jumpers would provide a means of identifying those who sadly succumbed to the treacherous conditions.

A basket stitch represented the baskets of the fisherman, whilst the honeycomb pattern represented the hard work of the island bees. Other stitches and patterns included moss, zigzag and cable, each with its own meaning. These intricately crafted knits often comprised over 100,000 stitches and were often passed down from generation to generation.

Image credit

Merino jumpers

This version of the classic fisherman’s jumper retains the same practicalities in terms of form and function as it did historically. Crafted from Merino wool with its natural ability to regulate temperature, wick moisture and control odour, the pleasing aesthetic of the fisher man sweater is backed by all the benefits of this natural fibre.

For a modern take on a fisherman sweater, you will find inspiration in contemporary versions of this classic piece at shops such as https://shoparan.com/mens-aran-sweaters/mens-fisherman-sweaters/. Available in a variety of colours, fits and styles, the fisherman sweater is truly timeless.

A fisher man sweater is not only a stylish and classic wardrobe addition but also a meaningful piece, with history running through every fibre. Suitable for wearing in colder weather or as a transition piece between seasons, it will stand the test of time.

Joseph Brown

Joseph Brown