How to choose and compare fisherman’s jumpers

As well as being warm, long-lasting and sustainable, in Western Europe, the UK and Ireland, woollen clothing has a rich heritage with strong links to the sea and maritime culture. This is no surprise, as with its moisture-wicking abilities, warmth and breathability, a mens fisherman sweater could keep sailors warm and dry while bringing a little bit of home to sea with them.

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Not only were these woollen items made locally, but they were also traditionally crafted with wool from local breeds of sheep. An example is sweaters from the Aran Islands, like those found at, that are made in the local community from Aran sheep wool.

This local connection supports local communities, while a lack of travel between wool production and textile making also makes such items more sustainable than other clothing. This is still the case today, with a study by the University of Nottingham finding that clothing made in the British Isles is 47% less carbon-intensive.

Where the tradition comes from

Mens fisherman sweaters are traditionally made in coastal communities across the British Isles and Western Europe. Fishermen maintained close ties with their communities by wearing local patterns and symbols, usually made by local women who earned extra money through textile making while the men were at sea.

These jumpers also sometimes served a more sombre purpose – when ships were lost at sea and bodies could not be recovered for weeks or months, the jumpers could often identify the dead by telling the finder which community the sailors had come from. A mens fisherman sweater could sometimes be elaborately patterned all down the front or just have a long panel down the length of the arms.

How to choose a fisherman’s sweater

Fisherman’s sweaters are versatile, hard-wearing and also warm, because air is trapped through every stitch. Jumpers are traditionally roll-neck to give protection from the wind, but you can opt for crew-neck versions as well. Fisherman’s jumpers are usually navy or cream, but nowadays you get them in all kinds of colours to suit your palate.

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