Caulaincourt part I: When shoes are pure passion

22 june 2016                                                                                                Paris – 9 Avenue Victor Hugo

 

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“If I like the design, it will be part of the collection, otherwise I don’t make comprises” my meeting with Alexis Lafont, founder of Caulaincourt, begun like this; a meeting which has been very pleasant under all point of view.

Alexis founded Caulaincourt in 2008 to satisfy his will to make his art become real, he likes when something beautiful on paper can be admired, touched and even smelled. He defines his activity not as job, but as pure passion. Designing a shoe, imagining its shape, drawing its details and following step by step the production is just a great adventure, which is everyday different and enthralling.

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Getting in the Caulaincourt shop I have suddenly been fascinated by a special atmosphere, I wasn’t in a usual shoes shop. Low light, a little sofa and amazing coloured shoes were surrounding me; I was rather in a workshop thought to receive customers as best it is possible.

Julien, the shop manager who was coating a shoe with a dark blue patina, interrupt his work to receive me. It has been exactly the patina, which let me enraptured. Those colours, those shades, those smells; it was like each one of the shoes had its own soul, its own personality. I had the impression that just one or another brush stroke could give the shoe a totally different personality. That was just great!

Alexis, however, considers very important to precise that the patina is only a small part of Caulaincourt, “we don’t want to be recognized just for that” he says.

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During our meeting he told me a lot about the quality of his shoes and above all about the variety of his offer. In fact, the production is made by high quality French workshop, working with best materials. Moreover, Caulaincourt’s great strength is working with all kind of construction, as Alexis explains: “construction has to change depending on the model of shoe, we will never produce a boot with a bologna”.

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Looking at all available models in the shop, I got another important feature of Caulaincourt shoes, the shape. There are made using a very thin shape by assuring a reasonable length. Alexis keeps explaining how the Caulaincourt creations follow a sort of halfway credo between English and Italian styles. It was a very agreeable surprise! Still surprising me, Caulaincourt provide also a MTO – made-to-order – service allowing customers to choose the construction and some details. Proposing this kind of service Caulaincourt shows good adaptation skills, understanding that customers prefer to buy customized products more and more. Great move!

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Accessories give last treat. I discovered it at the end of the interview. Bags, wallets and belts are available ready-to-wear or bespoke. Yes, I said bespoke; customers would be able to choose every single detail, colour and measure. Caulaincourt is one of rare companies proposing this kind of service. Bravo!

Strengths

  • Great range of model and high quality French production
  • Possibility of MTO
  • Good quality/lifetime/price ratio

Weaknesses

  • I have noticed a lack of online communication, but I’m quite sure that is a strategic decision of management.

Soon Caulaincourt part II: the test!

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