Shima Seiki

Free membership

Receive our weekly Newsletter
and set tailored daily news alerts.

Flat Knitting

Tricots Saint James reopens workshops to public

Visitors are invited to hear the story of the making of the famous ‘real sailor sweater’ with a knit so tight that it is said to be waterproof.

10th August 2021

Knitting Industry
 |  Saint James, Normandy


A French knitwear manufacturer is reopening its workshops to the public after being forced to restrict access during the pandemic. Normandy based Tricots Saint James, famous for its classic striped Breton sailor sweaters, offers tours of its workshops where visitors can not only buy its famous wool and cotton sweaters, but can see them being manufactured.

“For several years, we have opened our knitting and tailoring workshops to visits from individuals. Thus, we offer you the opportunity to follow the 18 steps of manufacturing a wool sweater, within our workshop labelled Living Heritage Company, “the company posted on social media recently. “To discover our universe and share our know-how, you can book your niche again,” it said.

Normandy and its nautical traditions are at the heart of our DNA and push us every day to make our precious heritage known to as many people as possible

Visiting the workshop is said to be a real immersion in the Saint James universe. It all starts in the city of the same name, Saint-James, just a stone's throw from Mont Saint-Michel.  Tricots Saint James ”invites visitors to discover its traditional know-how in the manufacture of genuine sailor sweaters by opening the doors of its workshops.”

“Since 1889, Saint James has perpetuated the French artisanal tradition in textile clothing. Labelled Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant, come and discover a history and the craftsmen of a know-how of excellence,” the company says. “You will be told the story of the making of this famous ‘real sailor sweater’ with a knit so tight that it is said to be waterproof: all the stages from design to manufacture.”

In 2012, Saint James was awarded the ‘Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant’ (EPV) label, awarded by the French government. This prestigious label distinguishes French companies with excellent artisanal and industrial know-how, a genuine recognition for Saint James, which attaches the utmost importance to the quality of its products.

Visits to Saint James’ workshops are by reservation only. Full details are available here.

For the last 130 years, Saint James clothing’s identity has been linked to artisanal, slow fashion knitting know-how developed through a close ‘family’ of employees. “We are heirs to a nautical tradition that we are proud to share in France and around the world. We work every day to produce high-quality products, combining high standards, simplicity, and elegance,” says Saint James.

Saint James has consistently been attached to the values​​of independence, freedom, and openness to the world.

From the creation in 1889 of the ‘Filatures de Saint James’ to the company's transfer of ownership to its employees and senior executives in 1990, everything is being done in the common interest of the company and its economic and social environment, Saint James explains.

“Far from isolating us, this spirit of independence has enabled us to multiply partnerships and promote the brand internationally while maintaining our identity,” the company adds.

More than 130 years after establishing the first spinning mill in the town of Saint-James, under the leadership of its former mayor, Léon Legallais, the company's offices and workshops have remained in the region. “Our brand has become a true standard-bearer for the entire region,” it says.

“Normandy and its nautical traditions are at the heart of our DNA and push us every day to make our precious heritage known to as many people as possible.”

From design to manufacturing clothes

The Saint James workshops are divided into three functions: a design studio, a ‘knitting atelier’, and a cut-and-sew department. Within the design studio, which employs 25 people, designers and pattern makers design Saint James clothing collections each season. The designers draw inspiration from the latest fashion trends to update the line while retaining its nautical soul and elegance.

The knitting workshop houses 77 flat knitting machines, 17 of which have been renewed since 2013. Finally, the cut-and-sew department, in which the garments are assembled, is structured in nine independent groups. Each group is made up of 6 to 8 people. More than 100 seamstresses exercise their talents there, using complex sewing techniques that require great skill.

Latest Reports

Business intelligence for the fibre, textiles and apparel industries: technologies, innovations, markets, investments, trade policy, sourcing, strategy...

Find out more