Over the years I have come to love and trust some great fashion designers and labels as well as brands that have well and truly stood the test of time with innovative design and quality products. For in my eyes a product to become a classic must have design credentials, be fit for purpose, be beautifully made and be of sound quality. I shall be introducing regularly some old and new tried and tested designers and brands that have earnt their place as my personal ‘Country Lane Heroes’.
Vogue scored a major fashion coup this year when the Duchess of Cambridge agreed to her first ever cover shoot to celebrate the centenary of the magazine. The feature of the story was the ‘unexpected informality’. No diamonds and tiaras but instead a very informal Duchess wearing amongst other things Petit Bateau. A striped long sleeve top in the iconic Petit Bateau stripes which unsurprisingly sold out and is no longer available. I am sure that this shoot further cemented Petit Bateau’s UK reputation but this would be of no great surprise to its legion of devoted customers in France. This is after all the iconic French brand that begun its journey in 1893.
What you need to know: they invented cotton underwear replacing wool underwear for which we must all be grateful! Crucially for any parent they also invented the American armhole in 1950 allowing a baby bodysuit to slip easily through the head and arms of a baby: a complete god-send which I became acutely aware of as I dressed my new-born child, despite a career dressing people. We can also thank Petit Bateau for inventing velour and towelling in children’s wear as nothing beats their quality velour in baby bodysuits for softness and warmth.
I first became aware of Petit Bateau as a school child in London as we all changed into our PE kit in the dressing room, some girls wore the distinctive Petit Bateau Milleraies vests and pants in either red or navy stripe. Anyone who was French (and a large majority of the pupils were) only wore Petit Bateau, a badge of honour so to speak. My French mother insisted on Marks & Spencer as Petit Bateau was too expensive much to my disappointment. Anyway on a trip to Paris I was struck down by gastroenteritis age 9 or 10 and was hospitalised. I remember being vastly cheered up as an in-patient of the children’s ward I was issued hospital Petit Bateau Milleraies pyjamas. Hurrah! At long last I got to wear Petit Bateau. Only in France!
Just before ‘Little I’ was born, I popped into Petit Bateau as they are one of the few labels who have a Newborn range whose clothing is based on height, important if your newborn is premature or small and that was the rekindling of my love affair with this label. So ‘Little I’ started her sartorial life in Petit Bateau, a white velour sleepsuit with matching jacket and hat. When it comes to babies and children, Petit Bateau really does know how to deliver quality clothing which is soft to touch, well made and durable. Not for nothing that it has become one of the most popular resell baby and child clothing labels on Ebay. As ‘Little I’ has grown I have bought some great everyday basics that have withstood heavy wear and frequent washing and whose clothing have been designed with the child in mind. I have loved all their sleep suits and pyjamas in their wonderful warm velour (particularly useful in cold winter days in the countryside), rainmacs, underwear (currently the best on the market), rollneck cotton tops, Marinieres Breton tops, dungarees. The list goes on…I also hugely appreciate their attention to detail, and the finish on the garments, love their invented cocotte stitch. Clearly they exercise great quality control, rare in an ever evolving disposable world of clothing and one of my current clothing bug bears. The website works well and they have frequent sales, welcome news to any parent with growing children. The sizing I find comes up small in childrenswear and I have always tended to buy up a size, however underwear is true to age size.
As for adults, the Americans were the first to cotton on (excuse the pun) back in the Eighties to Petit Bateau’s range of vests and t-shirts for sixteen year olds. It proved so popular that Petit Bateau gradually expanded their size range to include adult sizes for men and women. I have been wearing non stop their Marinieres or Breton tops for every day. Once again great quality and still retaining shape and colour despite numerous washes.
So there you have it my first Country Lane Hero: Petit Bateau.
This is not a sponsored post.
All images courtesy of Petit Bateau