Some time ago I found these really great boots by La Botte Gardiane. Cool, stylish and solidly made, just perfect. When I was looking up the brand on the internet, I discovered that they were made in Languedoc. Just around the corner! So 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 celebrating arts and crafts, organised every spring throughout Europe. The perfect time to drop by and learn more about local, professional artisans and artists. La Botte Gardiane participated in these celebration days by organising a visit to their workshop in Camargue. So I went along, as I was very curious 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 with only five employees and a few machines. Since then, he and his offspring Laurent, Julien and Fanny, have turned La Botte Gardiane into a flourishing brand again. Fanny Agulhon joined in 2011 after graduating from the London College of Fashion and modernised their footwear designs.
Certified as a ‘Living Heritage Company’ in 2007, La Botte Gardiane is 100% made in France. As one of the last real French shoe factories, this highly regarded, special accolade is well deserved. Since 1958, La Botte Gardiane has made footwear of impeccable sturdiness and comfort. The high-quality of the boots have built the reputation of the brand and the current owners, who are passionate about their work, make sure that the craftsmanship still delivers these high standards.
When visiting the workshop, I realised all the work and love that is put into every single boot or shoe. It’s truly amazing to see! And it all starts with the leather, which comes from free-range cattle and only 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 experienced cutters know exactly how to cut the prestigious leathers without wastage.
After cutting the different pieces of leather, everything is collected in one container and given to the stitchers. It was so impressive to see all the required leather parts to make just one shoe! A Camargue boot, for example, needs at least 14 pieces of leather, not including the sole. Obviously, this part of the job is very precise.
Manual work with love
Finally, it comes to the assembly of the sole. As there are different layers to the sole, this requires some work as well. The employees use machines to place the sole, but they nail the interlayer by hand, every single nail, one by one! Of course, the footwear doesn’t leave the workshop until it’s been controlled carefully. Also done manually. It really impressed me to see all the work required to create this beautiful footwear. Although pricey (boots cost around 300 euros, sandals around 145 euros), every euro is worth it when you realise all the love that has been put into each shoe!