sweater-vest

With Santorum out, what is the fate of the sweater vest?

April 11, 2012 at 12:10 PM ET

Scott Olson / Getty Images /
Rick Santorum rocks the sweater vest while speaking during a campaign rally on April 1, 2012 in Mishicot, Wis.

When it was announced Tuesday that Rick Santorum was suspending his presidential campaign, people weren’t just wondering about his political fate. Many were also asking about the fate of the sweater vest, now that its No. 1 fan has backed down from the campaign trail. 

The sweater vest enjoyed a resurgence with the Santorum campaign, which sent one to every supporter donating more than $100. The website encouraged supporters, “Don’t let sleeves slow you down!” The sweater vest became so synonymous with Santorum’s campaign his action figure even ended up wearing it.

In his concession speech, Santorum spoke fondly of his go-to knitwear. “Amazing thing that sweater vest,” he said. “It happened on a night I was doing an event for Mike Huckabee in Des Moines. I showed up and everybody was in shirts and ties and I showed up in a sweater vest…turned out I gave a pretty good speech that night, and all of a sudden the Twitterverse went wild, saying it must be the sweater vest. From that point on, the sweater vest became the official wardrobe of the Santorum campaign.”

The Twitterverse responded yesterday too, as #sweatervest began trending. Some remained hopeful, like Shirley Henry of CNN tweeting, “I feel like the #sweatervest resurgence will go on.” Another person tweeted, “Will Santorum now lobby for #sweatervest industry?” There was also some remorse about its end, with a user tweeting, “If only I had bought a Rick Santorum #sweatervest while there was still time…”

Oh, don’t worry; there is.

“We will continue making sweater vests even though the campaign has been suspended,” Bill Batchelder, the owner of the vest manufacturer Bemidji Woolen Mills, told TODAY.com. “The demand for the sweater vest is still very strong. In fact, yesterday and today I got more requests for sweater vests than I have had at any point during the campaign.” 

Sweater vest aficionado Rick Santorum visits the factory that makes them

The mill has made nearly 2,000 sweater vests so far, with current orders for an additional 4,000. Since the company is small and family-owned, the mill can only make 50-100 sweaters per day. “We’re all hands on deck, working at full capacity all the time, to get the sweater vests out,” Batchelder said, 

Batchelder will be ready and willing to manufacture the vests if Santorum runs again. “I’m very much looking forward to that four years from now. I’m going to say a prayer that he decides to go again and I’m sure the sweater vest will be a big part of it.”

TODAY.com contributor Jillian Eugenios would like to suggest the sweater vests are also made into dresses, for ladies wishing to get snazzy with the sleeveless look. 

TOP