(Collectors Weekly) – You’ve heard it before, and no doubt you’ll hear it again: The Cosby sweater is back with a vengeance. The ubiquitous gaudy knits, named after those worn by comedian Bill Cosby on “The Cosby Show,” are beloved by everyone from irony-laden thrifters to fashion’s top designers. Not unlike the ugly Christmas sweater trend, Cosby’s flamboyant knitwear has become a cultural touchstone. Yet beyond our standard nostalgia for the ostentatious ’80s, the reasons why the world went Cosby sweater-crazy are less clear. So we asked Dr. Bill Cosby himself.

“We’re talking about the knit woolen things that look like the sheep were different colors or fell in some paint, right?” Cosby says over the phone. “Isn’t that what you’re talking about?”

Exactly. Besides referring to the sweaters sported by Cosby’s character, Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, to invoke the phrase “Cosby sweater” is to call something garish, tacky, and outdated—in an affectionate way. And in the cyclical world of fashion design, such passé looks have recently inspired a swath of contemporary looks featuring bold, geometric patterns and incorporating a mishmash of colors and textures.

Cosby himself doesn’t even remember when he first heard the term “Cosby sweater,” and is hard-pressed to explain why the style is such a phenomenon among young people today.


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