The ugly Christmas sweater story

The ugly Christmas sweater — now a global phenomenon — has its own unique history.

A cozy history

It is a garment worn by Scandinavian fishermen that has become a fashion icon, it is a product that generates millions of dollars. In the United States, it has its national day on the third Friday of December, this is the ugly Christmas sweater. In the 19th century, these jacquard sweaters with geometric and colorful patterns were hand-knitted and worn by Scandinavian and Icelandic fishermen. At the start of the 20th century, European skiers adopted these wool sweaters, which kept them particularly warm.

Canadian fashion statement

In the early 1960s, Christmas-themed designs appeared on the sweaters, now made of synthetic fibers. Worn by stars in movies or in Christmas advertisements, they began being associated with Christmas celebrations. In the 1980s, they made their comeback with the first wave of vintage fashion. In 2001, it was Mark Darcy's sweater in "Bridget Jones’s Diaries" that brought it back into 21st century fashion. It became a sweater that is worn ironically as the holidays approach. In 2002, two Canadian friends, Chris Boyd and Jordan Birch, decided to organize an ugly Christmas sweater themed party. The following year, the private party turned into a charity event open to the public.

A joke became a holiday tradition

In 16 years, 12,000 people have participated in these events and more than $180,000 has been raised for charities. In the 2010's, the joke became a very serious business: many major ready-to-wear brands started manufacturing them especially for the occasion. In 2019, according to the organization Hubbub, 12 million sweaters are estimated to be sold in the United Kingdom, making the ugly Christmas sweater "one of the worst examples of fast fashion".