Like thick-rimmed glasses, plaid flannel shirts and male pompadour haircuts, ugly Christmas sweaters are a hipster trend turned mainstream. The once off-kilter style is, since 2011, a nationally celebrated day.
According to nationaluglychristmassweaterday.org — yes, that’s a real website — National Ugly Sweater Day will be Dec. 12 this year.
The celebration of ugly sweaters began as a way for people to dig out their own or their parents’ old sweaters and, over a glass of eggnog, laugh about the unfortunate patterns that were popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Then people started hitting thrift stores to seek out heavily ornamented Christmas sweaters that were once loved by a now-retired kindergarten teacher. Today, designers are making and people are buying purposely-ugly sweaters for the occasion.
“I’ve never seen a product or category blow up like this,” Meri Barnes, product and business developer for Michael Gerald, told Businessweek. “Last year we sold more than 35,000.” This year, she expects that number to rise to 400,000.
The ugly sweater business is booming, and for good reason. Probably every city in the country will host at least one “ugly sweater” event. There will be fun runs, parties and pub crawls all around the country, said the Detroit CBS News.
Retailers are hopping on the sweater wagon. “Wal-Mart Stores, Target and Forever21 all have rolled out their own versions. Macy’s, Nordstrom and SkyMall are among more than 20 retailers selling DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater Kits (about $30) that include a sweater, stencils, and embellishments such as felt and googly eyes,” wrote Bloomberg Businessweek.
A number of small business entrepreneurs who began selling homemade or thrifted ugly sweaters online before the trend went huge are making lavish profits. The most successful small retailers have made hunting down or creating ugly Christmas sweaters their full-time, year-round job, reported Businessweek.
For sports fans, there is an entire industry dedicated to creating sports-themed ugly sweaters. The NFL, NBA and NHL team-inspired sweaters are thanks to the innovation of Michael Lewis at Forever Collectibles.
Whatever the occasion, there is no excuse to be sensibly dressed in a conservative Christmas sweater this holiday season. It’s go ugly, or go home.
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