Monday, August 9, 2010

French fishermen sweaters

A Brief History

Breton Fishermen
 Photographed by Eliot Elisofon in the September of 1948


The origins of the fisherman’s sweater are to be found in Brittany. It is from there that merchants left during during the 18th century to travel to England for the sale of their onions.
These merchants wore an item of clothing that made them recognizable from a distance.
The French expression "marchand d’ail" (garlic merchant) which is what these people were called, became in everyday speech "chandail" referring to this item of clothing.
Knitwear, which until then had been made from wool cloth, was made in a very tight stitching, using a secret stitch which granted to clothing warmth, water proofing, and considerable resistance to both the wind and cold.

(Saint James Matelot)

The real Fisherman’s sweater was a long garment, very close fitting, designed to protect a sailor’s back and keep the body warm. Highly practical, very easy to put on as a result of buttons on the side, and in unwashed sheep wool.

Several variants appeared : colors like red, white, striped, but it should be remembered that, in the Navy, the single colored sweater was reserved for officers, and the striped variety for sailors. In the French Navy, young recruits wear a striped tee-shirt during their three month onboard training period.

Cancale in classic navy

Breton Fishermen
 Photographed by Eliot Elisofon in the September of 1948

At Lark we aren't just inspired by heritage brands, we are inspired by history itself.


Sarah Klassen said...

How have I not been to your shop?

It looks fantastic! Must stop by this or next week, and pick up one of these fantastic sweaters!


Lark said...

Hi Sarah,

Thank you for the compliments. Come in and share love for stripes and the French with us.

Ricky said...

This is a great bit of information on sweaters, that I did not know about!