Shirt (Breton)

Tricots Saint James

Established 1850

In the 19th century, the Breton Fisherman Sweater was designed to protect fishermen from the elements during long days and nights at sea. It became the trademark apparel of the garlic merchants, or marchands d’ail, of Brittany. Their iconic sweaters earned the nickname of chandail, a shortened version of the merchants’ name. In Saint-James, circa 1850, the Legallais family’s spinning plant, Les Filatures de Saint-James, began producing the yarn for the fisherman sweater, transforming this regional expertise into a successful industry. To this day, the Saint James atelier and factory is still located in the small village of Saint James.

To this date, Saint James still purveys the French Navy and the French Army (La Marine française et l’Armée de Terre) with their official uniform sweaters. Saint James is the maker of the authentic nautical Breton shirt in combed cotton jersey that has been part of the official French naval uniform since 1871. According to an old lore from Brittany, the 21 stripes each correspond to a naval victory of Napoleon’s French fleet against the British.

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© Tricots Saint James, Saint-James, France

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