TO DO | SHOPPING
Some time ago I found these really great boots of La Botte Gardiane. Cool, stylish and solid, just perfect. When I was looking up the brand on the internet, I found out they were made around the corner. In Languedoc! Of course, I had to find out more about these boots.
Open Doors Days
It happened to be “Les Journées Européennes des Métiers d’Arts”: a weekend which is organised every spring in the whole of Europe. Perfect time to drop by and learn more about local, professional craftsmen and artists. La Botte Gardiane also participated to these days and organised a visit to their workshop in Camargue. As I was very curious of course, I went to learn more about these great boots and shoes.
La Botte Gardiane was established in 1958 to make a solid boot for the French cowboys in the Camargue: les Gardians. Business went well until the end of the 1990s when it was about to go into liquidation. Fortunately, Michel Agulhon was able to buy the company in 1998, including only five employees and a few machines. Since then, he and his offspring Laurent, Julien and Fanny, turned La Botte Gardiane into a flourishing brand again. Fanny Agulhon joined in 2011 after graduating from the London College of Fashion and uplifted the design of the footwear.
100% made in France, La Botte Gardiane was certified as a “Living Heritage Company” in 2007. Being one of the last real French shoe factories, this special label is well deserved. Since 1958, the footwear of La Botte Gardiane requires great sturdiness and comfort. The high-quality of the boots has built the reputation of the brand. It makes sure that the craftsmanship and passion for their work always deliver to these high standards.
When visiting the workshop, I realised all the work and love that is put in every single boot or shoe. Amazing to see! In starts with the leather. This comes from free-range cattle and only from the best French tanneries that have the same high values as La Botte Gardiane. Different kinds of leather are used for the different parts of the footwear. The sole is the first to be cut, followed by the rest of the boot, shoe or sandal. No waste allowed here! The cutters are so experienced that they know exactly how to cut the prestigious leathers without wastage.
After cutting the different pieces of leather, all is collected in one container and given to the stitchers. Impressing to see all the leather parts that are required to make just one shoe! A Camargue boot, for example, needs at least 14 pieces of leather, not including the sole. No need to say this part of the job is very precise.
Manual work with love
Finally, the assembly of the sole is done. As there are different layers of the sole, this requires some work as well. The employee is using some machines to place the sole, but nailing the interlayer is done by hand, every single nail, one by one! Of course, the footwear doesn’t leave the workshop after being controlled carefully. Also done manually. I have to say I was really impressed to see all the work required to create this great footwear. Although pricey (boots cost around 300 euro, sandals around 145 euro), every euro is worth it as you realise all the love that has been put into it!