But now the Christmas jumper has become a must-have purchase for celebrities and fashionistas alike – and have flown off the shelves at high street stores.
Department store Debenhams said sales have shot up by 200 per cent compared with the same period last year, while online retailer Amazon also reported strong demand.
Photographs of celebrities such as Harry Styles, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber wearing their own cosy Christmas sweaters – emblazoned with snowy scenes and pictures of reindeers and snowmen – have been posted on social networking sites, fuelling the trend.
Designs ranging from jumpers emblazoned with snowmen, reindeer and Santa to those featuring snowflakes and elves have all proved popular on the British high street.
Debenhams spokeswoman Cassandra Robinson-Brown said: “These jolly jumpers have become part of the tradition of Christmas and provide some festive cheer as well as keeping us cosy. We are seeing many more celebrities join in the fun, customers are responding to the trend and top designers are turning out their own versions of the winter woollies.”
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She added: “It’s no longer an embarrassment to wear one and it appears the louder and flashier the better. Customers just love them and as a result they are flying off the shelves.”
But Katy Lennon, assistant at Armstrong’s Vintage Emporium in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket, said she believed the majority of buyers wore them as Christmas fancy dress rather than a serious item of clothing.
“People buy them for work nights out or parties, where they get together with their friends and all wear them,” she said, adding that the shop had begun to stock Christmas jumpers at the start of November and had already been inundated with sales.
“This year, the more novelty they are the better – ones with bells or anything attached are particularly popular – but I don’t think many people are buying them as something to wear for themselves; it’s more of a joke.”
Heather MacMillan, vendor manager at online retailer Amazon, said the company’s “Christmas Workshop” snowman jumper and its “Run & Fly” dancing reindeer jumper, featuring a Rudolph-style character dressed in a top hat and tails, had been last week’s bestsellers.
She said: “Sales of Christmas jumpers are gathering momentum – we saw an 117 per cent increase in sales over the past fortnight and we predict this will grow as we head towards Christmas.”
Save the Children has named 12 December as Christmas Jumper Day, when more than a million people across the UK are expected to don their favourite festive knit to work and school to raise money for the charity.
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