Guide: Paraboot. A Slice Of French Heritage
About Paraboot, Brand History
It all began in the late nineteenth century in Izeaux, a small village at the foot of the Alps. Rémy-Alexis Richard, born in 1878 into a humble farming family, became a semi-skilled cutter at Chevron, one of a score of shoe factories in this Isère village. These factories received orders from contractors “in the city”, bought the leather, cut it and had the pieces assembled at home by farming families at home in the surrounding hills, before fixing them (by nailing or sewing them) onto wooden or leather soles, depending on the product in question. Rémy Richard soon realised that these contractors from the cities earned more money than his own boss, and decided to try his luck; he went up to Paris with the designs for his own models to sell them as a “factory agent”. His plan worked! Rémy had “his” first shoes manufactured by the factories in Izeaux – including the one he had just left – and sold them to the “major” clients in Paris. In 1908, he began to hire his own staff.
How Are Paraboots Constructed?
It just so happens that Paraboot have quite a few designs that have stood the test of time and we think can bring something special to any wardrobe. In this guide we’ll take you through our favourite Paraboot shoe styles to consider for this season. Read on for grain-leather, stompy goodness.
The Michael/Marche is Paraboot’s most recognisable silhouette and we can see why. The Michael/Marche is pure artisan shoe Shangri-La. Look at that thing. Every individual stitch of this shoe seems to have its own presence. Based on a design that dates back to the 1930s, it was a popular shoe for laborers in the countryside and city dwellers alike due to its functional design. The soles, like all Paraboot shoes, feature their signature style of Norwegian-welt construction which is both decorative and practical, acting as a seal holding the upper, midsole, and outsole together. Just an absolute beaut of a shoe that will be appreciated by those who want something that will last forever and those who appreciate quality craftsmanship while also having something different from your run of the mill shoe design.
The Chambord is another beautiful shoe. This time perhaps a little more formal, but still keeping its edge with the help of its chunky and robust construction. Sitting on the same Norweigian-welt bottom with contrast stitching making it, like the Michael/Marche, a very versatile shoe that can be worn both casually and easily dressed up too without looking too prim and proper. It uses a derby style top with lace closure and decorative raised ridge around the toe. Lined with premium leather they’re super comfy and once broken in will be just as comfortable and your favourite trainers. I saw these a lot on a visit to Paris one time and they look even better with a bit of wear on them.
Paraboot’s take on the penny loafer, the Reims/Marche takes all the best parts of the classic shoe and gives it the Paraboot touch with their signature chunky rubber sole and Norwegian-Welt construction. The result is an elegant shoe that is equally rugged and capable for everyday wear. If loafers are your thing, but you want something that can be worn day to day and even in the depths of winter, then the Reims/Marche is a great option for you.
The Avignon Griff II
The Avignon Griff II is Paraboot’s slightly slimmer, more streamlined, and trimmed down model. The whole thing leads to the shoe being a little dressier but still looks great worn casually. Its slimmer profile also means it’s ideal if you have a particularly narrow foot. The toe cap is rounded and features a distinctive centre stitch that leads into the rest of the toe. Same Norwegian-welt construction sole and impeccable build quality with a slightly trimmed down, but still very capable sole.
You rarely see this kind of boot made today. Especially of this quality. Reminiscent of the great mountaineering boots of yore, these are some seriously well-made boots. The luxurious full-grain leather is thick and has a beautiful tone. Contrasting ankle support in soft cushioned leather at the heel. Real metal eyelets with a traditional speed-lace system at the top with the extra thick decorative rope laces. All this sits on Paraboot’s absolutely insane sole that looks like you could actually scale mountains in them. The cream contrast stitching offsets the leather…yeah, these are amazing.
The double-monk is another classic shoe that straddles the line between casual and formalwear. Paraboot gets the mix just right with their version – The William. This one, in a nice grain leather, features metal hardware and beautiful finishing on the top closure. Combo’d with the Norwegian welt contrast stitching and grippy sole these are a great option for those in the market for a pair of monks that are a little more robust than most, but with their refinement well intact.
Here at Stuarts London we’ve been proud stockists of Paraboot for a while now and one of the few selected stores in the UK that carry this historic brand. Here we covered Paraboot’s most well-known styles, but you can check out the rest of our full collection below.
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