Actors Steve McQueen, Grace Kelly, and Marilyn Monroe were all photographed or filmed wearing Aran-inspired knitwear in the 1950s and 60s.
The release of The Banshees of Inisherin, which has been nominated for eight Golden Globes awards, has brought a fresh focus on the woolly jumpers and a spike in cinema-goers looking to find similar apparel to that worn by its stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.
The 2019 film Knives Out, in which actor Chris Evans wore one of the chunky traditional knits, also sparked an uptick of interest in the Aran sweater.
The Sweater Shop, a family-run business established in 1986 with one store in Kilkenny, two in Galway and two in Dublin, has reported an increase in sales of the traditional jumpers.
“We’re getting a lot of people coming into the shops who wouldn’t normally come in. The main thing they’re realising after seeing the movie is the sweaters are a lot softer than they would have thought ... so this, along with the cold weather, is really creating a buzz around Aran sweaters,” said Laura Byrne, who runs The Sweater Shop’s store on Nassau Street, Dublin.
“We have people from Trinity College coming in and they’re buying their Aran sweaters, and then we also have an older customer coming in who is buying a warmer Aran sweater or a warm cardigan to wear at home”.
Rebecca Straniere from New York visited the The Sweater Shop’s Galway store on Abbeygate Street while on holiday in Ireland. Seeing Aran sweaters and clothing in movies, and on TV, encouraged her to find some while in Ireland.
“Aran sweaters are not necessarily accessible in the States ... my friends are looking to buy Aran sweaters after seeing them on television as well,” she said.
Rosy Temple, chief executive of Magee Clothing, noted films set in Ireland are usually a “positive force” for putting Irish design on the map. “They remind us what rich heritage the country has in textiles and design. For us, one of our key online markets would be the US, and we have seen a positive uplift in sales here, and that is perhaps down to the Inisherin effect,” she said.
She has seen strong footfall in Magee’s Irish stores in Donegal town, and at South Ann Street and Arnotts in Dublin.
“Earlier in the summer, we had Liam Neeson in store when he was filming in Donegal for The Land of Saints and Sinners, and then something like The Banshees of Inisherin has a palpable effect on throwing a star spotlight on Irish fashion and its landscape,” she told The Irish Times.
Alva Connelly, who runs the Sweater Shop in Galway, agreed the celebrity factor plays a big part in sales.
“When visitors come in, if you tell them, ‘this is a similar sweater that was featured on a certain model or actor,’ they’re very much taken with that. Anytime an Aran sweater is in the news we’d definitely get a bounce back from it.”