The Breton Stripe, like everything French, has a long history beginning with its origin in the French Navy in the 1850's, to Coco Chanel in the 1920's, to Gaultier in the 1980's, and then to just about every label in the world this past year. The original shirt featured 21 stripes, one for each of Napolean's victories. It was thought that the stripes would help locate seamen who fell overboard.
In the late 1950's and 60's, the shirt was associated with French New Wave Cinema- girls with gamine looks like Jean Seberg in "Breathless" and Jean Moreau in " Jules et Jim".
One thing is for sure, Breton Stripes have been around a long time and won't be going away anytime soon!
Fun Fact: Parisians introduced the horizontal stripes to the world to make you look fatter than them!