United States


Provenance: Paraboot

S/S 24

It has taken quite some time, and not a little determination, to get French footwear Paraboot into the building. Jumping through the hoops to prove we are acceptable retail partners wasn’t a stretch. But production at the family owned factory in Saint Jean de Moirans (in the Isere if you’re partial to some alpine skiing or iconic cols on your bike) is limited and distribution has to be restricted. This season marks the launch of Paraboot at The Hambledon.

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The Paraboot factory in Saint-Jean-de-Moirans

Who are Paraboot?

Cobbler and entrepreneur Rémy Richard noted that cutters, makers, and even business owners, in the scores of leather factories in the small towns and villages of Izere, were earning considerably less than the city based agents commissioning the shoe production. In 1908 he sold his own shoe designs to clients in Paris and set up in business for himself with investment from his wife, Juliette Pontvert, the daughter of a wealthy notaire. In Paraboot’s first iteration it was styled Richard-Pontvert and provided smart shoes for Parisians. But global travel and an inveterate interest in new technologies led Richard to the US and innovations with rubber. Back in France he developed a rubber sole (predating The Beatles by quite some years) which replaced more traditional leather and wooden soles. The majority of production at his new factory shifted from dressing up footwear to waterproof workwear.

A vintage Paraboot advertisement from the 1950s

Rémy-Alexis Richard, 1908

Julien Richard, son and heir, took over in 1937 in the midst of occupation and then the Second World War. Having negotiated the trials of lack of materials and lack of workers, he then had to negotiate the post war rise in synthetics and the threat to Paraboot’s more traditional manufacturing methods. His strategy for development of the business revolved around the specific promotion of tradition and the marketing of the product to workers in industries where longevity, comfort and sturdiness were critical. Farmers, horse dealers, lumberjacks, shepherds, factory and postal workers and craftsmen are the new consumers.

A post-war Paraboot advertisement, 1946

Next generation Michel Richard steered the company through bankruptcy in the early 80s (a crashing dollar and a once thriving export market made conditions untenable). A fortuitous meeting with major Italian distributor WP Lavori (heritage brands Vans, Barbour, Woolrich, Filson, Baracuta, B.D. Baggies, Avon Celli and Blundstone all stabled in their Bologna headquarters) and a shift in men’s footwear fashion led to the resurgence of their iconic ‘Michael’ shoe and a swift change in Paraboot’s fortunes.

Paraboot enters its fourth generation

Eric Cantona wears the iconic 'Michael'

A new, more urban orientation for the brand

A new, more urban orientation for the brand

What's in a Name?

For an iconic French brand, it doesn’t have a particularly francophone ring. ‘Para’ is for the port in Amazonia from where the rubber was exported. The English ‘boot’ is from Richard Sr’s 1926 trip to America and his introduction to modern rubber galoshes.

Paraboot under construction

The Styles

All our Paraboot shoes are Derby construction. Unlike Oxfords, Derby shoes have the quarters stitched on top of the vamp (yep, I’m as confused as you, this is a whole new vocab). Essentially the lacing is looser and the shoe more comfortable.

The Michael

The iconic, timeless style. First introduced in 1945, made from thick leather with a piped seam for protection; 2 eyelets; a small, strong lace; and a natural rubber sole. Featuring a Norwegian welt (where the sole is hand stitched to the upper with both seams remaining visible), this is a comfortable, sturdy and completely waterproof shoe. Perfect for town or country. Perfect with denim. And perfectly on trend. This is the shoe to get you out of your trainers. Available in brown (Lisse Cafe) and black (Lisse Noir).

The Reims

The very pinnacle of French footwear. The Reims is a timeless loafer inspired by the Michael, with a sturdy shape that offers a bold and masculine look. Handmade with beautiful plain leather; a piped seam; saddle strap; genuine rubber sole. A classic addition to any wardrobe.

The Avignon

Both a dress and a casual shoe, this is one of Paraboot’s best selling styles. Split toe construction; 5 eyelets; leather lined; Norwegian welted; rubber sole.

The Malo

The classic deck shoe. First introduced in the 1960s, this model was inspired by the stitching found on Native American moccasins. Featuring simple piped seam; 2 eyelets; Blake stitching (a single stitch method of attaching upper to sole, invented by Lyman Reed Blake in 1856. There will be a test later).

The Lowdown

Rob gives us the inside track on the world of Paraboot.

Shipping & Returns
All orders are shipped with DHL or UPS.

UK Mainland Delivery (inc. Northern Ireland):
Standard Delivery is free of charge for all orders over £100 (£4.95 for orders less than £100) and takes 3-5 working days
Express is £6.95 and takes 1-2 working days
UK Highlands and Islands is £9.95

Non-UK Delivery:
European Standard Delivery is £15.00
U.S.A Standard Delivery is £20.00
Rest of the World Standard Delivery is £25

(Please note that this charge includes delivery only, therefore non-EU customers will be responsible for import duties and local taxes)