Fisherman Sweater History

The Fisherman Sweater

Fisherman sweaters used to be something that were seen as items of warm and rugged work wear, but much as changed, and fisherman sweaters have followed jeans to make that transformation from work wear to a 20th century fashionable clothing item.

Fisherman Sweater History

Rooted in our common heritage, commercial fishermen, weekend sailors, farmers and in fact people from all walks of life love the fisherman sweater. At sea, and in town, it is a symbol of simpler times when you could look good in something that was designed just to be practical and keep you warm, not to show off a label in order to be some kind of status symbol like many garments manufactured today.

The fisherman sweater has its origins in Brittany. Surprisingly it was not the fishermen that started to wear them, but merchants who during the 18th century travelled to England to sell onions, these merchants wore an item of knitted wool clothing that made them recognizable from a distance, the garments were made with very tight stitching, using a stitch designed for warmth, water proofing, and considerable resistance to the wind.

The fisherman sweater first worn by fishermen was a long garment, tightly fitted, designed to protect a sailor’s back and keep the body warm.

Highly practical, it had buttons on the side to aid quick wearing and removal, and was made from unwashed sheep wool, which still contained the sheep’s natural oil, which had protected the sheep from the elements; this oil is removed from modern wool, as it can smell a bit.

The fisherman’s sweaters were made in many colours like red, white, blue, and fancy patterns were eventually woven into the sweaters to depict ropes and ladders etc.

The future of the Fisherman Sweater

It has been a long journey for the fisherman sweater and it has survived many changes in fashion. In these times of high-tech clothing made in some cases from materials that were first invented for astronauts, it is nice to know that a garment made from good old fashioned wool which has been knitted in a design which has not changed much in hundreds of years ago is still as popular as ever and probably will still be for some time yet.

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Mark Shenton Owner of

Please read one of my others articles on fishermans sweaters here

Mark Shenton