The origins of the Submariner
Put yourselves in the shoes, or jumper, of a 1940’s British submarine crew. You’re out in the deep, dark ocean. Inside, it’s stuffy, hot and humid - outside it’s freezing cold, wet, and as windy as it can get. You can’t shower or shave, for risk of wasting precious water, and you’re covered in oil and grime from days of navigating or operating heavy machinery.
It sounds pretty brutal, doesn’t it? Of course, and the Navy knew this better than anyone.
They needed a material and style that both wicked away heat effectively in the stuffy sub, while also providing a thick, warm layer that could stand up to the harsh open sea conditions.
Enter the Submariner - which effortlessly handled both extremes. A slight drop shoulder style, thick ribbed neck, cuffs and hem - the Submariner locks in heat when you need it, and wicks it away when you don’t.
And, like the Swiss Army Knife, it’s functionality and aesthetic style have endured well into the modern world.
With over 40 years’ knitting experience, our Submariner collection is one of our bestselling ranges. Read on to discover which Paul James Knitwear Submariner is best for you and why we only use 100% natural fibres for the most luxurious knitwear experience.
Between the threads - What makes a Submariner
For our bestselling jumpers to pay proper homage to their seafaring origins and to stand up to our rigorous standards, we need to make sure that every yarn, thread, and knit comes together perfectly.
That starts with the material we use - and for the Submariner, that comes in two forms: Merino Wool and Cotton, both of which are ethically-sourced, made from 100% of their source material, and manufactured into beautiful jumpers personally by teams in our Leicestershire, and India factory, respectively.
Soft, biodegradable, fire-resistant, temperature regulating… we could go on - Merino wool is just that good.
It’s a natural and renewable fibre that we source from our ethical South American purveyor. Nothing regulates heat better, and here’s why:
The natural Merino fibres crimp and shrink when exposed to colder temperatures, instantly creating a light-weight layer of insulation. Think of it like a stretchy net that bunches up and loosens in response to your body temperature.
That means when it’s hot, the fibres relax, becoming more breathable, and effortlessly wicking heat away from your skin as a vapour before it can become sweat.
Just look at the sheep it's sourced from, they have to endure a massive range of temperature, and the fibres naturally found in their wool does just that.
Ol’ reliable. Thick, sturdy, cosy. This breathable material is equal parts warm on a chilly day and breathable on warmer ones. Even better, cotton is machine washable, making it easier to maintain. It’s also skin-friendly; perfect for anyone with wool allergies or sensitive skin.
It has to be grown in tropical climates, and that’s why we source ours ethically from India, then have it produced into jumpers by our family-run sister factory in the same country.
Just like Merino, it’s breathable, heat-wicking, but it also has a fantastic resistance to wear and tear. So, even if this is your first jumper purchase, you can be confident it’ll be in your wardrobe for years to come.
That’s why it can be a great option for those just starting their jumper collection, as you won’t be struggling to clean, maintain or care for your cotton jumper.
With a choice between Merino or Cotton, our Submariners come in a range of distinct styles and thicknesses, and, naturally, a host of sizes - we really have something for anyone in the Submariner line.
“But which is the best fit for me?” We hear you ask. Well, here’s what we recommend.
Cotton is the all-rounder, it’ll have your back through a crisp, icy morning or a mild evening. It isn’t as effective as Merino at trapping heat when it needs to, but that isn’t always a bad thing.
We’ve got a dedicated Heavyweight Roll Neck Submariner, available in either Cotton or Merino. And, for those who want a more lightweight option, we now have the 30% lighter Lightweight Roll Neck Submariner in pure cotton.
Loose, snug, stylish - it’s the ideal piece to wear on a cool summer’s evening in a restaurant garden, or out and about on a damp, cold day.
The roll neck and tight cuffs ensures no heat escapes unnecessarily, while the natural cotton fibres ensure you don’t get stuffy between your layers.
The Fitted Submariner
Just like for the ladies, we offer a Heavyweight Roll Neck Submariner, in Cotton or Merino. But for those looking for a tighter, more body-fitting look, we’ve also designed our Fitted Submariner.
It’s the best of both worlds - should you want a loose, blanket-like feel to your jumper, our standard Submariner is your best bet. But for a closer cut, second-skin feeling, we recommend the Fitted version.
Men's Heavyweight Merino Fitted Submariner in Charcoal and Ecru
For those who aren’t afraid of a bit of style fusion, our Men’s range of Submariners also comes in a Breton-stripe option, made with 100% Merino wool, and evocative of the French naval style of the 19th and 20th century. Just as chunky, just as warm, but a little more joyeux, it’s a quirky yet classic variation we know you’ll love.
Men's Heavyweight Breton Merino Submariner in Navy, Burgundy and Ecru
Read about the history of men's work shirts.