In 2021, Circle Sportswear and Saint James will offer their community a unique collection, combining the technical knowledge of Circle with the tradition and know-how of Saint James.
Romain, co-founder and CEO of Circle, talks to Luc Lesénécal, President of Tricots Saint James, on the occasion of their exclusive collaboration.
How did your meeting go?
RT: The kind of moment you don't forget!
I had the chance to present the Circle project on Europe 1 during the programme La France qui Bouge in June 2020. Luc was there as an expert entrepreneur, and it seems he was curious to know more about our sportswear and eco-responsibility approach. He then challenged me to come up with ideas for collaborations in 48 hours. I accepted the challenge!
After that, the whole Circle team got together to brainstorm and come up with ideas that reflect our common values and complement each other to innovate together!
Two days later, we sent our proposals to Luc. And then the waiting... After a few hours, his answer finally arrived: he was interested! So we met a few days later, agreed on a collaboration together, and the adventure started like that!
LL : A story of encounter, as true collaborations are. Romain surprised me! And he was able to take up the challenge I had given him for the Europe 1 programme.
Why did you decide to work with a young sports and digital brand like Circle?
LL: The world of Saint James is not so far removed from that of Circle. We have similar values.
The idea was to get away from the marine codes and move towards a more 'sporty', urban universe. And then the notion of recyclability is something that is very important to us. We were born from the sea, let's not forget that! The idea of a QR code explaining the recyclability of a garment was also innovative for Saint James.
What does Saint James mean to you [Roman]?
RT: My first memory of Saint James goes back to my childhood: my first outfit when I learned to sail at Les Glénans in Brittany. For me, Saint James is quality clothing that lasts and follows us for life. These are the values that touch us at Circle: quality, durability and locality. And the motto "Born from the Sea" resonates with the genesis of our project which aimed to "Protect our playgrounds": Born in the Ocean, worn in the Cities.
What did you set out to achieve with this first collection?
RT: The priority was to have a circular approach (recycled & recyclable), to work as a team to think together about the best possible capsule. We thought it would be interesting to combine our complementary skills and values: "why not reinterpret an iconic Saint James and take it into the world of sport?" That's what we did with the marinière, in a new, highly technical material that is lighter than the Saint James standard.
LL: We were attracted by the idea of " twisting " our iconic sailor suit, taking it into a world other than maritime or casual chic. Circle is aimed at 90% of city dwellers, a target group we want to be present with. We also wanted to prove that our sailor's jacket could be adapted to sportswear other than nautical.
How is this collection environmentally friendly?
RT: It was important to think about this capsule as a whole in order to be as respectful of the planet as possible. We only sourced recycled fabrics, which are made in France or Italy. The prints are made with water-based ink. Finally, the thread of the Circle logo and the Saint James label are also recycled.
For the packaging, we also had to be consistent: we created a specific design for our collaboration using recycled paper and Acid Free.
So we had a 360° approach full of consistency and values. It is this attitude that makes the difference today for us, and of course for consumers.
LL : Traceability of raw materials, eco-responsibility, sustainability and transparency on production methods have always been values defended by Saint James. The QR code, printed on the different models that make up this collection, allows total transparency on the origin of the materials used and their recyclability. This is a first test for Saint James.
So how did you go about developing a capsule that was really adapted to sport?
RT: For the socks we were able to reinterpret our looks and materials already tested by many sports champions such as Yosi Goasdoué, French Half-Marathon Champion or Stéphanie Gicquel, adventurer and European Ultra Trail Champion.
For the tops, we worked with the traditional fibre manufacturers of Saint James but adapted the weight for more lightness and applied a quilted effect for more breathability! The result is stunning, elegant and high performance, it is the perfect outfit for walking, running, yoga but also for everyday life.
LL : The bridge seemed easy: in the same way that our sailor jumper was designed as the first protective garment for the sailor "the famous body knit", the garments intended for yoga and running protect the athletes. All we had to do was to adapt our sailor's jacket in terms of weight and breathability.
And when will this unique collection be available?
RT: Digital pre-orders will be launched in early May, in a very limited edition!
Then in stores in June, to associate it with a major highlight of the sporting summer: the Tokyo Olympic Games, but also the many events that will be planned in France.
We will offer internet customers the opportunity to pick up their orders directly at the point of sale, during specific days when yoga sessions or a running session will be offered with our sports ambassadors. The aim is to unite our communities while creating an event to welcome this first collaboration with Saint James.
Any final words on this first collaboration Luc?
LL : With Circle we share the same values of independence, sharing... in short, know-how and interpersonal skills! Know-how is a precious commodity, but interpersonal skills are just as important: integrity, honesty, respect and transparency are essential for a successful collaboration. This is what brought Circle and Saint James together!