You tend to have a sweet spot for all things that come first—your first love, your first home, your first job. It’s no wonder then that we can’t get enough of Saint James, the original maker of the Breton stripe shirt that has been part of the official French naval uniform since 1848 (and our closets for decades). And tonight, the classically cool label can add another first to its list. This evening, at the Hôtel Americano in New York, Saint James will debut a special, first-of-its-kind capsule collection exclusively for Barney New York.
The collection, designed by New York-based Martin Carvajal, comprises 8 pieces all made in Saint James, the Normandy town established by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. “The inspiration started with the classic Saint James sweaters and the need for well-made, durable garments,” says Carvajal. “It is easy to be inspired by something that was worn by Pablo Picasso and that still is manufactured in the same way. The strong structure plus the brand’s heritage were the inspiration.”
Martin took the classically French Breton stripe and fused it with familiar wardrobe staples from American heritage (think the varsity jacket, Ivy League shawl collar cardigan and the always-beloved Henley shirt). Look out for that familiar red, navy and natural color palette, too.
“I thought of someone who has style, but is not complicated. Someone who can combine a striped sweater with a sport coat and dress shoes, but can also wear it with shorts or sneakers,” Carvajal adds. “I thought of people who appreciate a garment that can stay relevant in your closet for decades. The pieces are comfortable but also tough.”
As part of this exciting launch, the photographer Backyard Bill captured a few friends dressed in pieces from the capsule collection and compiled them in a 2013 calendar. And though the pictures speak for themselves, we just had to ask a few of them about their relationship with the brand. What did we find? Girls or guys, summer or winter, these staples can be worn anytime, anywhere. So which color will you choose?
“With careful weaves and robust natural fabrics, Saint James forever captures the timeless style of the nomadic artist.” – John Barboni
“You could say the striped sailor shirts have been a staple for me for my entire adult life. In the winter, I live in the nautical sweater. It makes me feel like a captain. These are my favorite shirts in the world. I think I stole this shirt [right] from a girlfriend (Robert Fripp stole my haircut). And if you can believe ancestry.com, I’m descended from William the Conqueror.” – Glenn O’Brien
“I grew up in the South of France by the seaside in the summertime, where it got chilly in the evenings. When searching for something warm in my father’s closet, I stumbled upon a red and white Saint James oversized cotton sweater. I hijacked it and it became my own—never to be seen by him again. It really brings back family memories.” – Zani Gugelmann
“My father and I were only ever alone when we were on his boat. What persists of my memories of those moments are the sounds of the Atlantic ocean against our hull, the smell of the booty we wrestled from the water and the blue striped shirt which tightened around his mid-section as the years went by. While I’m not sure if it was a Saint James Naval, I am reminded of those heady days whenever I wear mine, which fits loosely for now.” – Kelechi Odu
Images courtesy of Backyard Bill.