The cold has set in and people are now donning their finest knits to keep warm.This a/w has seen one of the most traditional and eye-catching knits make a much welcomed comeback.
That knit is Fair Isle.
Brought into the realms of popular men’s fashion by that original 20th century dandy the then Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) when he took to wearing Fair Isle sweater vests in 1921.
Named after Fair Isle, a tiny island in the north of Scotland the knitting technique uses multiple colours. The Traditional Fair Isle pattern has a limited palette of five or so colours, using only two colours per row, which are worked in the round, and limit the length of a run of any particular colour.
But more recently the term Fair Isle applies to a wide range of knits that use several colours knitted in a blocks of varying patterns.
Fair Isle knits have a classically British feel with the heritage of 1930s-1950s enthused through the knits.
The dazzling use of contrasting colours and zigzag patterns were a much needed splash of colour to menswear’s often drab colour palette. Even almost 90 years later the effect is still the same – eye-catching, fun and stylish.
Recently designers such as Ralph Lauren (always a pioneer in heritage knits and Anglophilia) have produced some authentic vintage style Fair Isle pieces ranging from classic sweater vests (or ‘tank tops’ depending on your inclination) through to modern chunky knit cardigans with shawl necks.
This recent trend doesn’t stop there – Fair Isle has been applied to scarf trims, mittens and gloves. If it’s knitted it can be Fair Isle. From top designers through to the Great British high street all have welcomed the trend with open arms.
It’s taken a while for them to cotton on to this trend which has been years in the making. Original Fair Isle jumpers in vintage outlets have been much coveted items in recent years and these wonderful second hand boutiques were often the only place to get an authentic Fair Isle. But with the new trend high on the crest of the wave of style it’s now accessible to well dressed men about town everywhere.