Established in the 11th century at a cable's length from the Mont Saint-Michel, discover the history of Saint-James, a village in Normandy and its eponymous brand.
SINCE THE MIDDLE AGES
Establishing an ancestral craft
1160 - 1396: SAINT JAMES, CLOTH & WOOL MANUFACTURING VILLAGE
In 1160, William the Conqueror established the village of Saint-James on the Mont Saint-Michel bay. The sheep bred in the local salt marshes provide the ideal strain of wool for knitting sweaters, hats and nautical gear to keep the local sailors and fishermen warm on stormy expeditions.
Birth of the fisherman sweater
THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION BY THE SEA
Birth of a classic
1850: THE VILLAGE BECOMES BRAND
Carrying on a thousand year-old tradition in textiles, the story of Saint James began around 1850 in the city that gave its name to the brand. The company dyed and weaved wool that was sold in the form of skeins and balls in dry goods shops, and as undergarments and socks to hosiery shops.
1858: THE BRETON STRIPED JERSEY AS OFFICIAL UNIFORM IN THE FRENCH NAVYBROWSE OUR STRIPED TEES
1889: SAINT JAMES SPINNING MILLS
In 1889, the "Moulin du Prieur" workshop takes on the official status of Saint-James Mills Ltd.
THE 50’s TO THE 70’s
A family affair.
1950 - 1970 BONTE FATHER & SONS
Under the direction of Julien Bonte & sons, the company gives up its traditional activity to focus on making sweaters and cardigans, among which the "Vrai Chandail Marin Breton", knitted with pure wool.
1956: 3 WEEKS OF PAID VACATION
1960-70: THE NAUTICAL STYLE
When national paid vacation increases from 2 to 3 weeks per year, French vacationers embrace the pleasures of seaside holidays. They pack their bags with breton striped shirts, sailor caps and nautical sweaters. The brand is ackowledged and acclaimed by sailing buffs. The company bolsters its leading position on the market of nautical style clothing.
1970: SAINT JAMES KNITWEAR
The company devotes itself to knitting authentic nautical sweaters.
1980: PIONEERING EXPORTS
Saint James is one of the oldest French garment houses to have taken on the international market. It began with Tokyo as early as 1980 and expanded to the rest of the world. The brand is the French maritime tradition ambassador.
1989: A 100 YEARS OF HISTORY
This year marked the 100-year anniversary of a historic craftsmanship. The company celebrated by breaking a new record: it knitted the biggest sweater in the world that was 26 feet tall and 45 feet wide from one end of one sleeve to the other, as acknowledged by the Guinness World Records.
"Human capital" above all
1990: THE COMPANY IS BOUGHT BACK BY ITS EMPLOYEES
Under the impulse of Bernard Bonte and its management team determined to keep jobs and workshops in France, a majority share of Tricots Saint James is bought back by the company's employees. After Julien Bonte, Bernard Bonte steps down to let Yannick Duval take over as president of the company.
1994: EXPANDING THE ATELIER
Despite a challenging economy, the company's activity keeps on growing and the new management decides to build nearly 50,000 square feet of new buildings. In 2011 they add an additional 118,000 square feet.
1995: A HUMAN-SIZE COMPANY
The production process is organized in different workshops focused on independent tasks, which allows employees to work more freely.
Saint-James decides to create "cut-and-sew" collections (pants, shirts, jackets, etc.) by bringing in craftsmen known for the precision of their work. This new turn allows the company to design authentic nautical looks, inspired by the sea.BROWSE OUR BRETON SWEATERS
GROWING BUSINESS RESPONSIBLY
2005: SAINT JAMES IS AWARDED THE "ETHICS AND GOVERNANCE" TROPHY
In January 2005, Saint James' knitwear is awarded the "Ethics and governance" trophy by the business school Ecole des Dirigeants et Créateurs d'Entreprise (EDC) sponsored by Jean-Pierre Raffarin, France's Prime Minister at the time.
2005-2010 LOCAL BOUTIQUES
A new concept of retail pervades Saint-Malo, Paris, Rennes, Nice all the way to New York. Saint James is among those stores that value the notion of local commerce: entering a shop is like walking down a boardwalk and getting a whiff of sea mist. Designed with simple materials, light hues and clear-cut lines the shops opens up a welcoming space where the collection can breath with the ruffle of a bona fide sea breeze.
A SOURCE OF NATIONAL PRIDE
2012: CREATION OF THE HERITAGE COLLECTION
Saint James developed a line entirely devoted to its iconic pieces: the fisherman sweater, the breton striped tee and the peacoat are featured as unique, simple objects nearing perfection.
2013: A SYMBOL OF FRANCE IN DIPLOMATIC CIRCLES
Saint James products are officially included in diplomatic gifts given by the French government to foreign ambassadors.
2013: ENTREPRISE DU PATRIMOINE VIVANT
With the arrival of Luc Lesenecal at the head of the company, Saint James emphazises its unique local craftsmanship in nautical apparel of more than 120 years. The company receives France’s most prestigious government recognition: “Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant”, a label distinguishing the nation’s artisanal and industrial excellence.
2016: THE STORY GOES ON…BROWSE OUR PEACOATS