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Petit Bateau, the perfect t-shirts, 120 years in the making!

We are huge fans of Petit Bateau's basics, with amazing quality and lovely colours their basic tee's are a real favourite for layering under jackets, jumpers, over each other or even wearing on their own. These fabulous t-shirts have been made in France for over 120 years and with such an interesting history and design process we thought we'd share with you a little about the history!

120 years in the making...

The Petit Bateau was originally designed as an undershirt. It was developed in Troyes 120 years ago, first in wool and shortly thereafter in the finest cotton. In 1994, a renowned fashion designer decided to pair his iconic women’s suits with simple white T-shirts at a major fashion show. They were Petit Bateau. A revolution had begun: undergarments were now getting top billing and becoming clothes in their own right.

Beautiful quality designed to wash & wear well...

The classic t-shirts come in different types of knit...

1. 1x1 ribbing is the brand’s traditional knit. It is form-fitting and offers great flexibility and stretch for absolute ease of movement for the wearer. Its basis weight is 185g/m2. It is an 18-gauge knit (which means that there are 18 needles per inch on the knitting machine).“L’Original” model features this knit.

2. The light ribbing is so soft and lightweight it’s barely there at all. It is perfect for layering different styles and colours. It is a 24-guage knit. Its basis weight is 110 g/m2. Our “Le Sensible” model features this knit.

3. Jersey fabric, which is easy to recognize from the tiny garter stitch on the back, is a tighter, more resistant knit. It comes in varying thicknesses; the Petit Bateau is available in light jersey (145 g/m2, 18-guage), mid-weight (138 g/m2, 24-guage) and ultra-light (95 g/m2, 24-guage). Our “Le Nouveau Standard” model features this knit.

4. We create a new Petit Bateau every season. Each version, dubbed Summer or Winter, is designed in a different material. The Summer 2015 model is made of linen jersey.

It started as an undershirt, now it's a favourite t-shirt...

In the early days, when it was only available in 1x1 ribbing, the Petit Bateau was long and narrow, with perfectly symmetrical sleeves and a small neck opening (50-22; a strip of fabric 55mm wide before stitching, 22mm after). The stitches were said to be invisible.

It started as an undershirt, but has become a tee-shirt. The style has thus been subtly modified. We added four centimetres in width to the body for increased ease; revisited the shape of the sleeves, which are now slightly asymmetrical; added one centimeter to the width of the shoulder to ensure it falls just so; and did away with the cordonnet thread slipped into the shoulder seam, for greater comfort and ease of movement.

The rest, including the iconic tag that mentions the age/size and invites the owner to fill in his or her name, remains unchanged. An enduring reminder of its beginnings as children’s underclothes. It is the only style sold packaged in a box. It is available in long- and short-sleeved versions, with round, scoop or V necks, or as a cardigan.

Thirty colours are developed each season...

Picto blue, Jenna red, Polish green, Marquise pink, Doré yellow, Ecume white... Every Petit Bateau shade is designed by the style department and developed by the colour laboratory in Troyes.

Each hue is the product of a unique and exclusive recipe, which anchors Petit Bateau’s reputation for outstanding colour. Thirty colours are developed each season. They are then placed in our enormous library – home to more than 23,000 shades – for safekeeping.

Petit Bateau colours are free of phthalates, formaldehydes and heavy metals, and are OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified. They are specially designed for durability: they resist both time and washing. A Petit Bateau does not fade.

The Petit Bateau is not the kind of T-shirt you throw away: its seams do not warp, it does not lose its shape, and it stays soft....

The quality of a Petit Bateau begins with our rigorously selected and inspected long-staple, primarily American, cotton. The bolls fall away like cocoons in the machines that then knit the cotton into ribbed or jersey fabric. Kilometers of material are stocked in boxes before heading to the dyeing workshop.

There the fabric turns round in a stainless steel machine for six to 12 hours in a dye bath for deep, rich colour.

The dripping 350-metre strips of fabric are then dried, relaxed and stabilised by expert hands – another key to ensuring the Petit Bateau keeps its shape.

The next step is tailoring: first cutting the knit, then precision hand assembly of the different pieces, and the finishing touches.

Each Petit Bateau t-shirt....

Each Petit Bateau is made of 6.5 kilometers of cotton from the best cotton crops, primarily from the United States. That is one of its most important secrets: a finer, higher-quality thread for a tighter, sturdier knit.

3.4 million Petit Bateaus are sold worldwide each year. That’s the equivalent of 22 million kilometers of cotton – enough to go around the earth 550 times.

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