Fashionable and comfy? It’s possible via these Irish sweatshirts

In a world of plastic jeans and kitten heels, the fashion sweatshirt is a welcome relief

It’s easy to feel personally victimised by fashion when those in the know are claiming that plastic jeans and kitten heels are the hot new thing, but sometimes the stars align and a trend comes along which fits perfectly into your life.

Step forward the sweatshirt, that comfortable thing you wear when you’re hungover on a Sunday, and so hot right now.

While the Repeal movement’s black and white sweatshirts were not created for fashion purposes, there is no denying that they have become a fashionable item. In fact, there are now several different, equally stylish, sweatshirts available for fundraising purposes. Outside of politics, they’re having a moment too.

Peter Bradley is a Galway-based fine artist who specialises in portraits and was shortlisted for the Hennessy Portrait Prize in 2016. This month, with his partner, he launched Grey + Ginger Clothing which sells sweatshirts adorned with Peter's work.

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The idea began as a way to support his studio practice, but he says he’s really enjoying the experience of sharing his work in a different way.

“Sweatshirts are without a doubt my favourite thing to wear... I love the idea of a garment that looks as good when you are walking the high street as it is comfortable when you are lounging around on the couch at home.”

It's not often the fashion world smiles upon those of us who live to lounge around on the couch at home, but the sweatshirt trend started a few years ago when brands like Kenzo and Givenchy put them on the runway, and they don't seem to be going anywhere.

Festival merch

Mary Nally is the founder, director and curator of Drop Everything, a festival of contemporary arts and culture which takes place on Inis Oirr every second year. It's very cool. This year is an off year, but you can get the cool vibes via their line of sweatshirts which began as festival merch and then grew due to the sheer appetite for them.

Their initial ‘Island’ range was a collaboration with Berlin-based Starstyling, but their newer ‘Loveen’ jumpers’ origin was more organic.

“I made the Loveen ones as a going away present for two pals leaving Galway recently, then other pals wanted them. Aoibheann in Ard Bia asked to stock them and from there Nine Crows [did too], so basically the idea came from making things for myself and my friends.”

Where does the appetite come from? Well, as Nally, who wears sweatshirts “almost exclusively”, says, “Couture is tricky on a daily basis”.

Also, there’s no doubt that it’s easy to make a personal statement via a garment which is emblazoned with art or words. Bradley’s designs expand on the positive messages around gender identity which exist in his fine art work.

And who doesn’t want to connect with their Irishness via a sweatshirt that screams ‘Loveen’? Surely the primary reason for the sweatshirt’s current success is its practicality and comfort. Something you can wear to the party, home from the party, to bed and then on the hangover couch the next day? That’s the absolute dream.