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Studio Tour: Saint James®

It doesn’t get more French than Saint James, the famed purveyor of Breton-striped knitwear for over 150 years, whose styles—a staple of the French Navy uniform—have been dubbed “the seafarer’s second skin.” We visited its seaside factory in Normandy to see how the brand’s iconic tees are made—this time with a J.Crew spin.

The three daughters of one of the company’s owners, Bernard Bonte, all wearing Saint James in 1969.

Vintage photos from inside the factory.

Founded in the village of Saint-James in Normandy in 1850, Saint James began as a textile company
before making its name manufacturing shirts for French sailors out of tightly knit local wool (they’re
known as “the seafarer’s second skin”). Over the decades, the style became an official part of the
country’s naval uniform, as well as the unofficial uniform of artists and bohemians like Pablo Picasso.
Now, it’s practically a French staple. “I grew up wearing the shirts and now my daughters do too,” says
Jacqueline Petipas, the brand’s creative director.

To create our exclusive tees, the Saint James design team looked through their archives for inspiration—and right out their workshop windows at the colors of the beautiful Mont Saint-Michel Bay. “We love experimenting and adding tiny details that make a world of difference,” says Jacqueline. Case in point: The best way to distinguish a Saint James tee from the pack is the name tag on the left sleeve, which the brand always includes as a mark of authenticity.

“We love adding tiny details that make a world of difference,” says Jacqueline, the brand’s creative director.

A collection of one-of-a-kind Saint James shirts created
exclusively for the opening of our new Paris store at 12 rue Malher.

Our first Paris store is open at 12 rue Malher in the Marais. So come by, say hello and let everyone know that you visited by tagging @jcrew and #jaicrew. 

Photographs by Bryan Derballa. 

Shop all Saint James for men and women here.

TAGS: womens, in good company, studio tour