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The Breton sailor sweater, from its birth to the present day
The sailor sweater first appeared in the 19th century in the form of a woolen shirt worn by the “Terre-Neuvas”, those Breton sailors who embarked for months to fish for cod in the Atlantic.
In 1850, Léon Legallais, mayor of the commune of Saint-James, located in what is now Manche in Normandy, founded a spinning mill to knit balls and skeins for the haberdashery shops in Brittany. It was not until 1889 that the first Saint James garment appeared.
Sailor sweaters are now available in various cuts and colors and dress the modern man with elegance while maintaining its comfort and warmth.
How Saint James Breton sweaters are made
The Saint James fisherman sweater for men is still knitted and made in France today, respecting a craft tradition spanning nearly a century and a half. In the workshop, knitting masters supervise the looms.
The different pieces are then cut and assembled by hand, and the collars are not sewn but re-stitched. This know-how explains the high quality and remarkable resistance of Saint James sailor sweaters. Knitted with a tight stitch, it allows both an excellent hold, good heat retention and makes them almost waterproof.
The wool for Saint James sweaters comes mainly from New Zealand, Australia, South America, and France. Before working independently in the workshop, all the craftsmen and women employed by the company receive a demanding and comprehensive training course over several months.
Ways to wear a men’s Breton fisherman sweater
Suitable for all seasons and all body types, the Saint James sailor sweater is available in fine or thick wool. The authentic model has a straight cut, close to the body, and is available in a longer or broader version. For some models, a ribbed edge at the bottom of the garment provides a looser fit.
The Breton fisherman sweater is also available in several colors, from traditional blue and white stripes to the jacquard pattern, through graphic lines for a contemporary look or solid colors that blend with all styles.
Some styles feature stand-up collars, V-neck, a trucker collar with or without shoulder buttons.
The authentic sailor sweater for men with horizontal stripes goes very well with a denim overshirt for a casual style and under a pea coat for an elegant and timeless look. It fits just as well with raw, skinny, or loose denim jeans as it does with long navy blue or beige chinos.
A pair of boat shoes will complete the nautical style. In contrast, sneakers or boots will add a touch of modernity or refined elegance.
Care instructions for your Saint James sailor sweater
You can wash your Saint James wool sweaters inside out not to damage the textile fibers and avoid the appearance of pilling. Also, contrary to popular belief, the reverse side of a garment is the dirtiest because it is the side exposed to sweat.
To better protect your Saint James fisherman sweater when it goes through the washing cycle, you may use a washing net. It will prevent friction against other objects, such as jeans buttons or zippers, which may damage the wool after several washing cycles.
Saint James sailor sweaters should be washed with a special wool detergent using a delicate laundry setting. If the washing machine does not provide such a setting, choose a maximum temperature of 90°F (or Cool) and set the spin cycle to the minimum, between 400 and 600 rpm.
Good to know: during a wool cycle, it is important not to fill the drum too much so that the different woolen garments are not packed together. A load of 2 to 4 lbs is more than enough.
The detergent should ideally be a special wool detergent with an appropriate composition not to damage the fibers, prevent them from felting and retain their shine.
Once washed and wrung out, the Saint James men's sailor sweater should be placed flat on a terry towel: the towel will absorb excess water. The garment will dry naturally, retaining its initial shape. With the weight of the water, it could warp if it were left to dry on a hanger. Clothespins, however, mark fibers and leave an imprint that can be difficult to get rid of.
Wool fisherman sweaters generally do not need to be ironed. However, if the garment requires it, it is recommended to place a damp cloth between the iron, set at medium temperature, and the wool to prevent the burning of the fibers.
Following these care instructions will extend the lifespan of your Saint James men's sweaters for a very long time. Since stripes have passed through the ages and fashions, a Saint James fisherman sweater can be worn without losing its quality or style.