The Gardiane Boot
Rue de Charonne is one of all these places that make up the capital's mille-feuille which has been throbbing since the die-hard Gauls transformed Lutèce into Paris. Known in the Middle Ages for its Soothsayer who practiced divination talents there, or even smoke-making one would say more prosaically today, the street is more firmly anchored in history and traces than the artisan cabinetmakers and furniture restorers left there.
It is here, rue de Charonne, that Mister K set up his workbench, his hive, my business, rich in so many daydreams.
We are not alone there and it is obviously not a coincidence, since, you know, I do not believe in coincidences at all. At number 16, the great Isabel Marant set up her first store there, which brought her luck.
So I don't believe in coincidences, even less in Guessers. I believe in work and the determination anchored in the bodies and hearts of entrepreneurs, to build connections and leave a beautiful mark.
Precisely, at number 25 of “my” street, there is a unique boutique which exudes craftsmanship and a passion for a job well done, without ostentation. The brand is named La Botte Gardiane .
Our meeting is obvious, like all these unmissable meetings because they were not planned. Have you noticed that all missed appointments were first written in stone in the calendar, in vain? Well, let's not get lost in the twists and turns of the subconscious, let's stay with our feet on the ground and the land where the Botte Gardiane was born is beautiful and wild: the Camargue.
I went to Aigues-Vives last month to meet the Agulhon family, buyers of this brand which has the same alchemy as Mister K. We are going to collaborate to launch a pair of sandals, the first sandals that I secretly dreamed of to complete our wardrobe. I will tell you the story of the Agulhon family saga and you will understand why the sandals from our next collection are as beautiful and light as the “wind soles” that Rimbaud wore in his wanderings.
At the turn of the 90s, La Botte Gardiane was barely a brand, more the work tool that the Camargue herdsmen carried while riding through the rushes and irises, on the sandy soil of the Rhône Delta, to herd their flock. . The founder of this very confidential brand let his little business go into liquidation, as if it were inevitable, at a time when the herdsmen and their flock were slowly disappearing from the landscape.
It was then that Michel Agulhon, insatiable entrepreneur and creator of safety shoes, saw that La Botte Gardiane could rise from its ashes. The case was resumed in 1995, at a time when Antoine, Julien and Fanny were leaving adolescence to enter working life and careers. Their diploma should have destined them for courses as bankers, engineers or designers, but there you have it, the land of Camargue must have something magnetic and captivating. Van Gogh and Gauguin will be able to confirm this to you after their stay in Arles!
From the year 2000, one after the other, Antoine, Julien and Fanny returned to the fold to run the Brand under the leadership of the father who planned to retire, gently, with the satisfaction of the one who the luxury of having nothing to demonstrate, but the joy of transmitting. Look on the La Botte Gardiane website, today's photo of Antoine, Julien and Fanny, you will not see the parable of the prodigal sons and daughter returning from their illusions, but the quiet assurance of a saga , united around their Brand. There are photos that don't mislead.
2002 is undoubtedly the year when the brand took off and acquired its reputation as a niche of excellence. The gardian boot, an iconic model, has "made its mark", ankle boots, men's and women's dress shoes, sandals, under the pencil of Fanny, stylist of the saga. The Japanese, who are masters of assuming the coexistence between extreme technological modernity and ancestral traditions, saw in the Botte Gardiane collections everything they love and binds them to their archipelago: respect for the elders, durability, accuracy of design , the obsession with detail and quality, the absence of arrogance, the protective family and then surely the breath of the “kamis”, these spirits of Shintoism, capable of lodging just as well in the memory of a loved one, a familiar piece of furniture or... why not a pair of boots, as long as it has a soul!
Certainly La Botte Gardiane has a soul, the same one that I met in Cholet at Laurent Audouin, who made Serge, our bag, and at Alain De Smet who made Irving, our Perfecto.
Antoine, Julien, Fanny and their 22 workers, have the same virtues for working leather: proximity to skin suppliers, origin of already dead animals, from the food sector, eco-responsible tanning, leather waterproofed and softened at hot grease, boots, shoes and sandals are handmade - our pair of sandals will have the sole fully sewn - same perplexity also when faced with so-called vegetable leather. Behind the veil of ecological appearances, it takes quite a few non-virtuous operations based on hydrocarbon derivatives to transform a tropical pineapple into ersatz leather! The brand tried it, without being definitively convinced. Eternal dilemma between ethics of conviction and ethics of responsibility, dear to Max Weber. The first is that of absolute morality which also has the effect of establishing a world turned in on itself and without nuance in its paralyzing fundamentalism in the face of the unbridled cynicism of “others”. Between the two, the ethics of responsibility constitutes true risk-taking, that which will assume the responsibility of choosing action with discernment and sincerity.
In this vein, read the presentation on the Brand's website, these words could be mine: “Artisanal manufacturing between Nîmes and Montpellier goes hand in hand with a policy of corporate social responsibility (CSR): local supply, eco-design, transparency, sustainability – consuming less, but better – repair, working conditions… the SME s 'part of a circular economy model. Minimization of waste throughout the process is encouraged. Boot leather scraps are reused for sandals, for certain linings, […]. The shoe boxes are made from partially recycled cardboard and made in France […]” and as a natural complement to this manifesto, the company's new buildings are built in compliance with all standards aimed at limiting energy consumption. Each workstation is designed to ensure the well-being – therefore reasoned productivity – of each person (LED lighting, dust and solvent extraction, noise barriers, etc.).
La Botte Gardiane is certified as a Living Heritage Company and 2021 winner of the ADC Leather Industry incubator (beyond leather)...
All of this surely reminds you of something: doing beauty, doing good, doing it well ... zero stock, zero waste for the planet.
When I tell you there is no coincidence!
Our pair of sandals will be called Madrague. It will share with the Camargue the light of the Mediterranean plus all the conviction and authenticity which are the raison d'être of La Botte Gardiane and Mister K.