Here's the full article for those who don't want to register (but you really should, for the pictures). The Quacker Factory is actually mentioned at the end of the article.
Goes Well With Eggnog Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times By ERIC WILSON Published: December 21, 2006
BEFORE casting aspersions on the appearance at this time of year of sweaters bearing images of Santa Claus, reindeer, elves, snowmen and other holiday cast members, one should be aware that among the people who wear them are some whose taste could be described as beyond reproach.
x93We canx92t be too hasty to judge people,x94 Joyce Caruso Corrigan, an editor at large at Marie Claire magazine, said in the euphonious sort of voice that suggests she knows of what she speaks. Mrs. Corrigan had just come from a very smart holiday party in New Fairfield, Conn., where she had spotted a strikingly attractive woman wearing a rather large red sweater with snowmen, to which she had attached an oversize Santa Claus pin.
The holiday sweater, Mrs. Corrigan said, x93is like the elephant in the middle of the room.x94 You never quite know whether it represents a genuine embrace of holiday cheerfulness or, rather, is being worn as a mischievous statement about material excess.
x93Here is a woman who has a Ph.D., she is the smartest woman in the room and happens to look like Scarlett Johansson, in a holiday sweater,x94 she said. x93I just thought she was being cheeky, but you canx92t question her style. She could kind of pull it off. Still, you donx92t see that in Manhattan.x94
Actually, that is not entirely correct.
On any December morning in the riotously decorated lobby of the Hotel Edison on West 47th Street, the groups of tourists visiting New York tend to include a fair number who blend with the crimson carpet.
Counting a man with white hair wearing Christmas suspenders over a white turtleneck, a woman in a vest with appliquxE9d trees, two with snowflake sweaters and one wearing a bright red jumper with a grid of boxes peeking open x97 an Advent calendar in intarsia x97 one could hypothesize that holiday sweaters are making a comeback.
On the other hand, they could be having a very horrible year, reduced to a repetitive punch line on x93Ugly Betty.x94 At Restoration Hardware in the Flatiron District, the holiday sweater is singled out in a window poster as a poor choice for gifting, the recommended alternative being a flashlight. And Staples, in a holiday commercial, includes a stereotypical x93sweater ladyx94 who speaks with a Wisconsin accent.
In Detroit on Friday night, a radio station was the host of a pub crawl for listeners, who were invited to turn up at various clubs wearing holiday sweaters as part of a contest to determine which was ugliest. And around the country, ugly sweater parties have become a popular phenomenon among college students who embrace their value as kitsch.
x93I did a search on MySpace and Facebook, and I saw over 200 postings around the country for the month of December for ugly sweater parties,x94 said Heather Mueller, a senior at the University of Minnesota who wrote about the parties in The Minnesota Daily this month. At one she attended in the Dinkytown neighborhood of Minneapolis, guests were asked to wear either eyesore sweaters or a turtleneck with a vintage blazer.
x93Originally, they called it a Robert Goulet party,x94 Ms. Mueller said. x93All of the guests were extremely enthusiastic. Everyone was trying to one up each other. Maybe thatx92s because they got to make fun of their friends and get drunk at the same time.x94 (The Jell-O shots were red and green, she noted.)
Yet the fate of the holiday sweater would seem to hang by a thread. At Liz Claiborne, which is attempting to renovate its frumpy image, the company deliberated this fall whether to continue such styles in its signature line.
x93We had a lively debate about whether we should continue making them or not,x94 said Pamela Thomas-Graham, a group president. x93But our ladies love them, so of course we will.x94 She pointed to a handsome compromise in boiled wool, a pale gray sweater trimmed with silver paillettes. But it didnx92t feel like Christmas.
Whether worn with sincerity, or merely without a disclaimer of intentional irony, holiday sweaters may never be able to fully escape the label of tacky, even among their own. Last Monday at the Edison, Suzanne Coale of Columbia, S.C., was wearing a Talbots cardigan with a poinsettia pattern. She explained, patiently, that such sweaters are considered quite dashing in some parts of the country.
I wear them because I like them,x94 said Ms. Coale, who prefers those she finds at regional department stores like Dillardx92s and Parisian. x93The thing I have found is that the nicer ones you can wear for several years. You get more style and a better fit, but last year when I came to New York at this time, I went to Macyx92s and was really surprised that everything was picked over. They had absolutely nothing.x94
With the exception of pet shops, Manhattan stores tend to treat the classic holiday sweater as somehow too shameful to sell. At Macyx92s, its numbers have been reduced to a handful of $46 red sweatshirts with snowmen standing around a Christmas tree.
Lord & Taylor has a single display of Marisa Christina holiday sweaters x97 at $130, among the most expensive to be found and also the most exuberant. A turquoise cardigan includes a dozen beaded snowmen on skates traversing a frozen lake dotted with pink and silver sequin trees. On the main floor of Bloomingdalex92s, a red cape on a mannequin may qualify but only because someone added a white boa to the display.
Of course, one could cast the same skeptical eye at what the tastemakers propose for holiday on the covers of fashion magazines. In the December issue of Vogue, Nicole Kidman wears a gold Versace breastplate with dangling gold paillettes, while Harperx92s Bazaar has Jennifer Lopez in a mirrored silver Versace gown. A sweater trimmed with gold ribbons would not seem amiss in such tinsel-laden highbrow fashion, which would also include the swirly red two-piece Oscar de la Renta number that so embarrassed the first lady this month when she saw it on three other women (and not in x93Dreamgirlsx94).
Meanwhile, mainstream retailers are reporting robust sales of sweaters as holiday gifts x97 not the novelty kind but ones woven with gold Lurex threads and embroidered with sequins. Nicole Fischelis, the fashion director of Macyx92s, said that there is a demand for looks that can easily translate from daytime to evening affairs.
x93Whether itx92s a pearl detail or a sequin detail or a border around the neckline, embellishment is booming,x94 she said. x93But this is subtle embellishment.x94
Among those polled at the Hotel Edison, subtlety is a question of degree. Some favored the holiday knits of Talbots, for example, because they are not as ostentatious as the popular novelty line called Quacker Factory, sold on QVC. A Quacker Factory design this season is the Glory of Jesus Tunic Sweater, for $59.50, which depicts a nativity scene with what appears to be a curiously blond Virgin Mary in a beaded pink poncho with a halo of flowers. By comparison, the skating penguins on a $118 Talbots cardigan are demurely attired, wearing only tiny red scarves.