Inis Meáin is a tiny and remote island thirty miles off the Western Coast of Ireland, a slab of rock with just 200 inhabitants. It is the middlemost of the Aran Islands and home to the Inis Meáin Knitting Company, founded in 1976 by Tarlach de Blácam and his wife Áine Ní Chonghaile, an island native. Drawing on tradition, where for centuries the local fishermen’s clothing was designed, handknitted and woven by the islanders, the couple started out with a small factory and just six knitting machines; a modest craft industry that provided jobs for Inis Meáin's younger generation, who might otherwise have left their home in search of work elsewhere.
Today, Inis Meáin continues to use and reinvent traditional skills and techniques to create some of the world's most renowned and authentic knitwear. Each piece is finished by hand using the finest yarns to create luxury artisanal garments for everyday contemporary living.
The wild, ever changing beauty of the island landscape has been instrumental in shaping the brand. Practically, knits are durable and robust, made for everyday wear. Aesthetically, the colours, textures and designs of each piece nod to the island's jagged limestone cliffs, winding dry stone walls, fields of vibrant wildflowers, tumultuous seas and moody skies.
In the early 20th century, the Anglo Irish and Gaelic literary revival bought an influx of visitors to the island and an increased appreciation for the traditions of the islanders and their knitting styles. By the mid-20th century the Aran jumper, the original fisherman's sweater, was being worn across the world. The style was based on the intricate cable knits worn formally by islanders on special occasions and for Sunday best. Over time, these elaborate, traditional designs have been reinvented by the company and given a more restrained, contemporary feel with unique colours and yarns.
Inis Meáin work on small runs of new styles in the finest wool, cashmere, alpaca, linen and silk, sourced from mills across Europe and South America. Each product is still made from start to finish on the island, using a combination of high-tech knitting machines and the unparalleled skill of the expert handknitters who finish each garment, linking panels, adding patches and sewing on labels by hand, all under one roof.