Breton Sweaters for Women
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Plain or striped, in cotton knit or pure new wool, Saint James sweaters for women result from traditional know-how passed down from generation to generation. Faithful to their maritime heritage while being resolutely modern, they are made with great care according to strict quality standards.
The birth of the Saint James fisherman sweater for women
Saint James' Breton sweaters for women are so durable because they originally served a utilitarian function. In 1889, Léon Legallais, mayor of the town of Saint-James in La Manche, started making the first sailor sweaters within his spinning mill. The market: working clothes for fishermen.
The so-called Newfoundlanders, those sailors who went out for long months every year to fish for cod off the coast of Canada, needed warm clothing capable of protecting them from freezing temperatures and keeping them warm, providing shelter from rain and spray, without hindering their movements when maneuvering aboard boats.
This is how the sailor sweater came into being. It was at the time called "chandail" (sweater in English) due to Norman and Breton fishermen who, when they were not going fishing in the North Atlantic, crossed the Channel to sell garlic in the south of England.
As they announced their presence, shouting "Marchand d'ail" (Garlic merchant in English), The British heard" ... chand'ail " (sweater in English), which gave rise to the word sweater. At the time, the fisherman sweater was knitted from the wool of salt meadows sheep, raised in the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel.
Over the years and decades, the Breton sweater has lost its purely utilitarian function to serve fashion without renouncing its nautical heritage and without losing its ability to protect against cold and humidity.
It no longer dresses only sailors, but all the women and men committed to wearing quality clothing that is as elegant as it is cold-weather resistant.
How Saint James women's Breton sweaters are made
Between the start and the end of the tailoring process, a Saint James women's sweater passes through 18 pairs of expert hands.
There are the hands of the master knitters, who set up and supervise the knitting looms, inspect the work and report any faults to the raccoutrage (mending) workshop. Their expertise allows them to know precisely which adjustments to make depending on the piece and the raw material used.
There are also the hands of the seamstresses, who assemble the different knitted pieces, called panels, sometimes using very complex sewing techniques. About a hundred of them, mostly women, work every day in the brand's Normandy atelier.
They make the hems at the end of the sleeves and the bottom of Breton sweaters, assemble the panels with very thin seams, and fix the collars of women's sweaters to the necklines using a rare technique, called remaillage (remeshing), which is a specificity of the Saint James brand.
Finally, after knitting and before assembly, women's Breton sweaters arrive in the hands of raccoutreuses (mending experts), these craftswomen who detect the smallest flaw and polish each garment as a unique piece. Their know-how is exclusively taught in the Saint James atelier, during in-house training lasting almost two years.
It takes two weeks to make a Saint James ladies sailor sweater.
Saint James women's Breton sweaters: between authenticity and creativity
Saint James fisherman sweaters for women are the result of ancient and rare know-how. If they have been able to adapt to each era without losing any authenticity, it is also thanks to the creativity of the styling team.
Twice a year, new collections are created: a Spring / Summer collection and an Autumn / Winter collection. The Saint James designers research natural materials and possible blends as well as yarns, assembly methods, new knitting techniques, and current trends in colors and cuts.
They make sketches and then develop a technical file for each new style of women's sweaters. This file contains a technical drawing, the plans of the panels to be knitted and assembled, the colors and materials used, all the instructions for making, and the various measurements by size.
A prototype of this new style of women's sweaters is then made and worn in-house, within the Saint James team, to check its fit before going into production.
Easy and comfortable to wear while being of high quality, Saint James women's sweaters are part of a casual-chic spirit, the perfect combination of elegance and relaxation. The brand's nautical style is exported internationally. From Japan to the United States, Saint James sweaters are both an emblem of French fashion and the art of living.