The true french breton kabig
Old photo of kabig woman and child Le Glazik
The kabig is a very particular garment with its own codes of the authentic Breton wardrobe.
Not to be confused with the Duffle coat !
One widespread common mistake is lumping together the kabig and the duffle-coat, or the former as a derivation of the latter.
They are only distant cousins ! The kabig is the long coat from Brittany whereas the DC is the UK coat. The two mains differences revolves around the (lined) melton and the logs versus brandeburgs.
Photo of a child's duffle coat: no notching, shoulder reinforcements specific to the duffle coat
Some history tips
The word kabig comes from Breton word KAB AN AOD – literally beach cape, a neologism invented by Marc Le Berre, a post-WWII stylist who revamped the traditional kabig. Originally it was a large hooded cape and then turned out to be a coat – a cape with long-sleeves.
As we put it the kabig was a coat worn by seaweed harvester/ beach-fishermen of shells or shellfishes. The kabig is first reported in the 1840s but should have existed long-before.
The kabig was formerly a feminine coat, due to the division of tasks meaning that men were at the deep blue sea when women worked ashore.
That is the reason why LE GLAZIK keeps making kabig only for women.
Once a workwear coat, today an authentic fashion coat, this garment meets strict features requirements that our factory complies with thoroughly.
The Breton Kabig key features
To be a kabig the coat has to :
Sa plus grosse particularité réside dans sa fabrication en elle même :
- be long enough to protect from cold and humidity (Three Quarter Length Coat)
- be warm and water-repellent thanks to its dense but unlined melton
- avoid water trickle-down effect plus rapid wear and tear when shouldering heavy burdens/ropes thanks to its notched shoulders tabs
- protect&warm the idle-hand or the two hands independently (the hands do not meet) thansk to its single-double-ventral-pocket
- protect the head thanks to its hood
- be easy to close when wearing gloves thanks to its logs made in rot-proof boxwood.
Formerly the two main colours were white (very visible from ships) and navy.
In the 60’s LE GLAZIK produced a more fashion version of the kabig to supply tourists as shorefishermen & traditions died out.
The kabig coat came into fashion (outside Brittany) after WWII, even if it was manufactured for several decades by Le Glazik.
Many brands surfed the wave of the kabig coat, but the sole genuine brand is LE GLAZIK. The kabig is definitely a key piece of the traditional look of the Bretons.
The kabig has a wonderful ability to be rethought in different styles while keeping its strong identity.
The iconic kabig for children is named KAREN offered in several colours. Many youth, even beyond the limits of Brittany, remember going to school afoot wearing their warm kabig.
The adult version is named Annkaren, that LE GLAZIK keeps manufacturing since the beginning with all the traditional features mentioned in this post, even the use of boxwood for the logs.