Americans have blue jeans, the French have Breton stripes.
No item is more fundamental to French style than the blue and white striped shirt, and there’s certainly no shortage of them to go around. The appeal of a Breton tee is simple, they’re tailored through the body with an open “boat-neck,” but relaxed in the sleeve and are generally one of the most comfortable garments you can wear. It’s often the most basic items that are the easiest to screw up though and there are countless “close but no cigar” iterations of the Breton tee out there. Which brings us to Orcival, the seventy-five year old purveyors of an authentic Breton stripe tee.
If that name is less familiar to you than some other Breton-centric labels it’s because Orcival only arrived on the U.S. market over the past few years, but don’t let that fool you into thinking these guys are green. Founded in Paris by Charles Bert in 1939, Orcival soon relocated south to Lyon where they established a vertically integrated workshop to craft their striped tees. Orcival’s attentive approach to manufacturing endures today as they still produces all their garments in France using their own yarns on antique looms. Throughout the mid-twentieth century, Orcival’s business grew thanks in part to the backing of the French Navy, with whom they held a longstanding contract, as well as celebrities such as Pablo Picasso. Even with this homegrown support though, it still took Orcival quite some time to arrive in America, but they’ve now hit our shores with full force, so go ahead and get your Breton on.