Made famous thanks to The Big Lebowski, and more recently seen in collections like Brooklyn-based David Hart, the Cowichan sweater hails from Canada -- thanks to the Cowichan people of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, the knitting style itself an acculturated mash-up of early Fair Isle & Salish weaving & knitting techniques. While weaving & knitting has long been a part of the Salish people (they first used goat’s wool & dog hair), it was during the middle of the 19th century that sheep were first brought to Vancouver & the Cowichan sweater as we know it today was born.
Often mistaken for the similarly styled curling sweater & originally known for it’s neutral toned, intricate patterning & heavy thick single-ply yarns, the Cowichan sweater made it’s international debut at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 & has since become a staple amid outdoor enthusiasts around the world evolving over time as new colors, patterns & iterations have developed & until we launch our own range of winter warmers, we're happy to co-sign this menswear classic.
Today’s Cowichan or curling sweaters are rarely cheap & if you’re lucky enough to score a vintage version in your size, you’re usually paying well over a 200 bucks to get your Cowichan on, however we got lucky & spotted this pop-over iteration above on DIY site, Etsy for under $100 (a steal if you ask us). Also of note, and for those with a heftier bank account, Filson has launched their annual nod to the Cowichan with a limited edition take on the hefty woolen sweater, this time in a near surprisingly modern color combination of brown & orange for $450…and at the top end & launched less than a month ago on J.Crew, an impressive take on the Cowichan sweater in cashmere (Yes, cashmere). For about $1,700, you can blow your rent and instead rock what is probably one of the most beautiful sweaters of all time.
Not sure how to wear your newly acquired wool heavyweight? We get it. It’s not necessarily as universal as your favorite grey cashmere you scored at Barney’s Warehouse Sale last year, we suggest you keep it simple. We like a ’em worn in place of a tailored jacket with shirt & tie over grey flannel trousers nearly as much as pairing it over a henley & denim jacket over chinos.
You really can’t go wrong. Just keep the Lebowski references to a minimum. Halloween was weeks ago.
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