Fishermen in the north Atlantic have long worn woollen garments, likely introduced by the vikings when they settled the coasts of Ireland, Scotland and northern France. Wool was used for both its warmth and the naturally occurring lanolin in its fibres, this oil gave the wool a natural water resistance that would protect the wearer at sea. Despite press stories to the contrary, the modern fishermans sweaters have their roots in the late s when particular styles were standardised and sold commercially outside of the small island communities where they were made. There are countless varieties but the defining characteristics were a close fit and a heavy texture in order to keep the cold out. Named for the tiny Aran Islands found off the west coast of Ireland, Aran sweaters are a staple of winter collections and renowned for their intricate textures and warmth.
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