The wool knitted in our workshops comes from Australia, New Zealand, and South America. It is exclusively pure new wool, which means it comes directly from the shearing of healthy, living sheep. Inferior quality wool, which we do not use, is recovered from the fleece of slaughtered animals.
Raw wool, collected during shearing, is still greasy to the touch due to a fat secreted by sheep's skin. Therefore, it must be washed. Between raw wool and clean wool, it takes about 40% loss. So, for 1 kg of clean wool, 1.8 kg of raw wool is necessary.
The wool is washed, which removes the oils, dust, soil, and plant debris it still contains. The next step is carding, which involves disentangling the wool using a tool called a card.
Once carded, the wool is freed from the largest plant residues. The combing step allows finer pollution to be extracted. The yarn then comes out in the form of ribbons, which will then be dyed.
Two different techniques are used for dyeing wool. If the quantity of wool is at least equal to 1,000 lbs, the ribbons are directly immersed in large dye tanks. If the amount is smaller, the yarn is first spun, then wound onto cones before being dyed.
The wool used for Saint James clothing is spun in Europe, mainly in Italian spinning mills. It arrives in our workshops in the form of cones. The quality of the yarn is controlled meticulously by the knitting engineers, who then use it to feed the knitting machines.
The wool is stored in our workshops under strict conditions, at constant humidity and temperature levels.
In 2020, Saint James joined the French Tricolore collective. This organization aims to promote and rebuild the French wool industry, ranging from sheep shearing to knitting, including the various stages of washing, carding, combing, and spinning. Two styles, a men's sailor sweater, and a women's Breton sweater, were launched to celebrate this initiative with the SS21 Collection.
The production of a Matelot sweater requires no less than 23 yards of wool. That means that the fleece of one sheep can make 3 Matelot sweaters.
Once finished, the sweater weighs 2 lbs and will have gone through 18 stages of preparation, from knitting to packaging.
The wool is first knitted in panels by the looms, whose configuration and supervision are carried out by the master knitters. Once knitted, the panels are steamed to ensure their stabilization, except for the authentic Matelot sweater, whose material stabilization is provided by flattening the panels on racks for 72 hours.
Then comes the moment of cutting along the patterns, then the assembly of the panels. The seamstresses stitch, overlock, and re-mesh the buttoned bands and collar. They also affix the Saint James labels, crest, and logo.
The sweater then passes through Quality Control. In the event of a defect, however small, the garment is sent to the mending workshop / raccoutrage, where the necessary alterations are carried out. The buttons and buttonholes are placed, the sweater is ironed and, finally, put in a bag. It is now ready to ship.
Like most other woolen garments made in our workshops, the Matelot sweater is Woolmark certified. This certificate attests that it has been knitted from pure new wool that represents 100% of the garment's composition, unblended with lower quality fibers.
We traditionally use Merino wool, obtained from the shearing of Merino sheep, mainly raised in Australia, New Zealand, and South America. It is an exceptionally soft and supple fiber, which is as elastic as it is resistant.
It has thermoregulatory properties: it is insulating while being breathable, which allows you to retain body heat in winter without sweating as soon as the sunny days arrive.
Like other pure new wools, Merino wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water without being wet to the touch. This characteristic, which sailors were particularly suited to test, also allows the wool to dry quickly. Hence the reputation of an almost waterproof sweater.
We also use cashmere for some of our designs in combination with other fibers. This incredibly soft fiber comes from the undercoat of cashmere goats. It is so thin that it takes thousands to make a thread. Cashmere weighs ten times less than wool, and it is also more insulating and warmer.
First, make sure the model you own is machine washable. If this is the case, select a specific wool setting on your washing machine, at 90F (cashmere should not be washed at more than 90F). Use a non-chlorinated detergent.
If your washing machine does not have a dedicated wool setting, set the temperature to a maximum of 90F and the spin cycle to 400 to 500 RPM.
Once washed, your woolen garment should be laid out to dry flat. If you hang it from a line, it may warp under the weight of the water and never return to its original shape.
You can iron it with steam or use position 2 of your iron with a damp cloth between the iron and the garment for dry ironing.