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Photograph by Matthew Donaldson | Words by Mr Peter Henderson

The cable knit sweater has come a long way from its salty, maritime beginnings at the turn of the 19th century when it was developed as a rugged garment for fishermen and seafarers. The cable knitting technique (which produces the sweater's distinct, raised patterns) is as functional as it is decorative: the weave is more durable and insulating than standard knitted fabric, and in its original incarnation, when it was woven from untreated wool with the natural lanolin oils preserved, it was almost water-resistant.

The cable knit's charms, however, stretch well beyond practicality alone. Its history is embedded in folklore, too, with claims that the various inconsistencies and patterns of the knit could be interpreted. Basket-knit sections, for example, were said to represent a fisherman's basket, as a good luck charm for a plentiful haul, while variations in the knit were used to distinguish different clans or families, perhaps making it easier to identify the body of a drowned sailor ? an idea now thought, however, to have arisen from a literary misunderstanding.

By the early-to-mid 20th century, the cable knit sweater had made its transition from work to leisure, with the style becoming frequently associated with gentlemanly pursuits like golf and cricket. From then onwards, the cable knit took its place as a casual menswear staple, associated with the preppy, Ivy League style, something which was heightened by Mr Ralph Lauren's enthusiastic adoption of the cable knit as part of his Polo collection where, along with the polo shirt, it has remained a key component season after season.

Here, we profile just some of the men who have, over the years, helped make the cable knit what it is today - a wardrobe classic. From Mr Elvis Presley and Mr Matthew Broderick (or, as we like to call him, Mr Ferris Bueller) to MR PORTER's newest art team addition, Mr Lewis Malpas (not pictured, sadly), it's easy to see why the style has been having something of a moment.

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