We have been designing and manufacturing quality children's shoes since 1870; our savoir-faire has been handed down from generation to generation. From first sketches to finishing touches, a model goes through more than 200 different production steps. Some are unexpected, all are rigorous. We share here some of our passion for this exceptional craft.
Designing on the last
It all starts with our expertise building the last. The initial concept of the shoe materializes in the form of three-dimensional volume, embodied by the last. This step is essential and extremely precise. The width of the foot, the volume of the instep and the degree of forefoot lift are all characteristics to take into account, to the last millimeter! Next, a plastic shell is molded onto the last to allow the patternmaker to design the upper.
From the sketch provided by the design office, the patternmaker reproduces the upper on the last using a fine graphite pencil. Years of experience are necessary to acquire the precision that drawing on a last requires. The final shoe will be identical to the resulting design in every detail.
Next, a transparent adhesive cloth is applied to the last so that all the elements of the upper can be transposed onto it. It is then meticulously peeled off and applied flat to cardboard. After precise cutting out of each component, we have the pattern of the shoe.
The resulting pattern pieces allow the cutter to cut each piece of leather that makes up the upper of the shoe. This includes the inner lining. After making the pattern for a given size, called the base, the dimensions of the pieces needed to make the adjacent sizes are obtained by incremental grading. Several closely spaced bases are essential for the production of a range of children’s sizes, as the morphology of the foot changes enormously in the first few years. Each of these bases is designed on the last and transposed onto a pattern. When the first sample is assembled, several fittings are carried out to check the shape of the model and the accuracy of the fit. This is called "tuning." The patternmaker makes any necessary changes to the base pattern.
Stitching and assembly
To summarize these various steps: the concept takes shape in three dimensions on the last, on which the patternmaker draws the upper. From this drawing a pattern is made from which all the pieces of the upper are cut out. At the same time, the leather insole is also prepared. Once the other components that make up the model are added, such as the counter and toe cap (rigid pieces that are placed between the lining and the leather, at the heel and the front of the shoe respectively) or the closure elements (zipper, buckle, eyelets...), the model is ready for stitching and assembly.
Now that all the individual components that make up the shoe have been prepared, they must be assembled. The upper is the first part to be constructed. A final stage of preparation is necessary for the pieces of leather that must accommodate a particular strap or lacing.
The pieces of leather, exterior and interior, that make up the upper are assembled in the stitching workshop. Stitching requires great dexterity and precision to guarantee a quality result. The upper is then positioned on a plastic last, ready for assembly.
Assembly consists of putting together the upper and the leather lining. There are different types of assembly, each with its own particular characteristics depending on how the upper and the leather lining are put together.
Between stitching and assembly, there is a multitude of operations that we have not mentioned. Yet each of them is an essential step in the manufacturing process. For example, once the upper and the lining are assembled, all the layers of leather are dyed by hand, with a brush, using a mixture of natural dyes similar to the color of leather. This meticulous attention to detail contributes to the quality of the product.
The last step in the manufacturing process is attaching the outsole, or walking sole, to the newly formed upper/lining ensemble. In the case of traditional assembly, the outsole is attached to the upper by a gluing process. This is called welded construction. This requires a great deal of rigor and preparation beforehand to enable a perfect connection between sole and upper. Carding, for example, is an operation consisting of lightly scraping the underside of the insole before placing it in the oven to help the glue adhere.
The insole is attached to the last with adhesive strips. The upper is then fitted on the last, covering the insole. This ensemble is then heat-sealed. Once cooled, the ensemble is either sanded or carded as needed. An insulating layer of leather or cork completes this operation to fill out the bottom of the shoe. Next, the outsole and insole are glued, then set aside to rest so the solvents can dissipate. Finally, the upper and sole elements are joined and the glue is reactivated by heat pressure.
The shoes are then cleaned and buffed by hand according to the final look we want to give the leather. All the various treatment operations are called finishing.
Once the finishing is done, the pair of shoes is meticulously checked for any manufacturing defects. Then it is carefully wrapped in tissue paper and boxed. This is the final step of more than 200 operations that were necessary for its manufacture.