The Paraboot Michael derby shoe is the shoe to wear in 2024, plus more about Paraboots incredible history
Paraboot, a revered name in the world of footwear, has been synonymous with timeless style and impeccable craftsmanship since its inception in the early 20th century. The brand’s journey began with Rémy Richard, a visionary who left his job at a shoe factory to start his own business.
In the scenic alpine village of Izeaux, he initially crafted wooden-soled shoes for Parisian high society. It was a trip to the United States that revolutionized Rémy’s approach to shoemaking, as he encountered the marvel of rubber-soled boots. Embracing this new technology, Paraboot was established in 1927, deriving its name from the Amazonian town of Para, from where the latex rubber was sourced, combined with the term ‘boot’.
Under the guidance of Rémy’s son Julien, Paraboot expanded its portfolio to include sturdy boots designed for farmers, lumberjacks, and factory workers. The brand also developed footwear for professionals like vets and architects, who required durable yet less bulky shoes for their fieldwork in alpine towns.
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The Paraboot Michael
The Paraboot Michael, launched in 1945, is a prime example of this innovative approach. It combined the sturdy vulcanized sole of a hiking boot with a lower-profile, moccasin shape using a Norwegian welt—a complex stitching method designed to keep water out.
Despite the initial niche market for ‘vet-friendly mountain shoes’, Paraboot Michael became the epitome of the ‘Tyrolean shoe’—a style of sturdy leather mountain moccasins with chunky lugged soles. It’s often regarded as the definitive, archetypal Tyrolean shoe, overshadowing other variations in the genre.
The Michael’s unique design, featuring a lower profile and a robust sole, catered to a wide array of professionals and gradually gained popularity beyond its initial target market.
In the 1980s, Paraboot faced financial challenges, but the Michael played a significant role in reviving the brand. Italian distributor W.P. Lavori, known for introducing premium brands to Milanese youth, discovered the Michael and integrated it into the Paninaro youth culture alongside brands like Woolrich and Barbour.
This adoption by a stylish and discerning demographic in Italy marked a turning point for the Paraboot Michael, establishing it as a fashionable and unique footwear choice.
The appeal of the Paraboot Michael transcended borders, finding favor among a Parisian subculture known as BCBG (‘bon chic, bon genre’), who embraced its understated elegance. This group, known for their old-money heritage and conservative yet expensive dressing, found the Michael perfectly aligned with their ethos.
By the 1990s, the shoe had become iconic, appreciated by a diverse range of customers from Italian fashion-forward youths to the French elite and English casuals, solidifying its place in the pantheon of classic footwear.
How does the Paraboot Michael fit?
Today, the Paraboot Michael remains unchanged from its original 1945 design, a testament to the brand’s commitment to preserving its heritage. Still handcrafted in France, the Michael’s enduring design and construction resonate with those who appreciate classic, well-made footwear.
The shoe’s fit is particularly noteworthy; it’s designed to be worn with the toes right up against the end, a characteristic of many French shoe designs. This aspect, combined with their wide, pasty shape, makes them uniquely comfortable and stylish.
As we look towards 2024, the Paraboots stand out not just as a well-crafted shoe, but as a piece of fashion history. Its journey from a practical solution for alpine professionals to a symbol of understated luxury and style makes it more than just footwear—it’s a statement of enduring craftsmanship and timeless appeal. For those seeking a blend of comfort, style, and history, the Paraboot Michael is undoubtedly the shoe to wear.
Reposted from www.italist.com