Founded in North-West France in 1889 in the sleepy seaside town that bears the same name, Saint James has created the quintessential nautical sweater for over a century. Their iconic boat neck nautical sweater is one of those rare pieces that has endured year after year, decade after decade without any major modifications.
The Breton sweater is first and foremost a functional piece, designed specifically for the fishermen that made their living on the rivers that bordered the community. The constantly fluctuating temperatures that the fishermen faced out on the water called for a garment that could keep them warm but also not be so cumbersome that it would impact their work. Saint James found the solution by creating a sweater spun from one-hundred percent wool sourced from the local community. The signature metallic buttons on the left side of the collar are further evidence of the thought put into the sweater. The fisherman had to be able to throw the sweater on and off quickly without interrupting their work, so by adding the four buttons Saint James ensured they would be able to do so without ruining the integrity of the collar.
The understated design and effectiveness of the piece make it a great seasonal choice that remains relevant centuries later. While the Breton was produced first and foremost for the fishing community, it was adopted by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Jean Seberg in the 1960’s and 70’s, solidifying the sweater’s place within the modern fashion landscape. Since it’s inception Saint James has produced a subtle, functional garment that worked as well in the late 1800’s as it does today.