Inis Meain
by Karen Alberg Grossman

Inis MeainMenswear merchants targeting millennials agree: young customers today want brands with an authentic heritage. Our pick from the many great lines at this year’s Pitti Uomo: Inis Meain, an Irish knitwear company that brilliantly combines centuries-old tradition with modern flair.

If you know your geography, Inis Meain is one of the Aran Islands, about 30 miles off the western coast of Ireland. No more than three miles wide, it supports 200 inhabitants, mostly fisherman who carry their canvas “currach” boats up from the raging Atlantic shore after every voyage. For hundreds of years, their garments have been knitted by the women of the island.

Aine and Tarlach de Blacam in the brand’s Pub sweater

Aine and Tarlach de Blacam have taken this tradition and created a sweater brand that’s become a real hit in upscale stores since 1976. Using luxury yarns in seasonal colors inspired by land and sea, this international brand has combined hand craftsmanship with upscale technology for the best possible mix of old and new. Their goal was to sustain the tradition of beautiful artisan knitwear while supporting the island’s community; they’ve succeeded beyond their dreams. Among their accomplishments: they’ve stemmed emigration and provided permanent work to support a sustainable community; they’ve provided electricity and running water, a new harbor and airstrip facilities and a fully equipped workshop for young islanders whose mothers knitted at home for the tourist trade.

One might think that sweaters are a cold-weather business but Inis Meain’s linen and linen blends for spring ‘18 are lightweight and fashion-right. Among our favorites, the Pub Jacket, originally a knit shirt jacket but now resembling more of a soft sportcoat, first made famous by iconic merchant Murray Pearlstein of Louis Boston who ran an ad for it in The New Yorker magazine in 1994. It’s pure linen, available in several colors, and always a sell-out (at about $600 retail). For more info in the U.S., contact Michael Sestak:

Inis Meain