Over the past few years, questioning the manufacturing origins of the products we buy has become much more commonplace. And in this era of globalisation, very few products are still made locally. Are there any shoe manufacturers left on French soil?

Made in France: the situation today

The biggest manufacturers in the footwear market are based in China. Huge factories are designed to produce larger and larger quantities in increasingly shorter timescales. The well-being of the workers in these factories is neglected.

The manufacturing origin of a shoe depends on where it is assembled. This step can be carried out manually or using a machine, and consists of attaching the sole to the upper using stitching or bonding. Bonding is the most popular construction technique, as it is quick, easy and does not require any particular skill. By contrast, stitching requires a level of expertise demonstrated by just a handful of qualified artisans.

Paraboot: a French-made shoe brand from the outset

All Paraboot shoes are assembled using stitching. Founded in 1908 by Rémy-Alexis Richard, the Richard-Pontvert family business has always manufactured its shoes in France, all bearing its famous green logo.

The workshop is located in the Isère region of France, at the foot of the Alps. Every day, around thirty artisans vulcanise the soles, then cut and stitch the leather before assembling the shoes. They are then finished, buffed and placed in a box. We pass down our expertise from generation to generation, meaning that Norwegian and Goodyear stitching remain the hallmark of Paraboot manufacturing. Paraboot is the world leader in the Norwegian welt.

This is why the State has recognised the achievements of the Richard-Pontvert name on several occasions.

In 2013, the Institut National des Métiers d’Arts awarded the company Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (Living Heritage Company) status in recognition of its outstanding expertise that combines tradition with innovation. More recently, the company was invited to the Grande Exposition du Fabriqué en France (Made in France exhibition) at the Elysée Palace.

Preserving our expertise: the challenge for the future

Over the past few years, companies have struggled to continue manufacturing men’s and women’s shoes on French soil. This is due to the move towards constructing shoes using faster techniques, as well as labour costs. 

Richard-Pontvert is just a stone’s throw from the town of Romans-sur-Isère, the cradle of shoe manufacturing, where the biggest names in luxury French shoemaking have closed their doors one by one. Shoemaking professionals have reinvented themselves, jeopardising all the expertise of manufacturing shoes on French soil.

Sadly, Richard-Pontvert also lost some of its traditional expertise due to this, notably its Blake stitching technique. Also known as the sewn-through process, this technique was developed by the shoemaker Leeman Reed Blake in 1858. This young employee of the sewing machine manufacturer Singer invented this technique as a way to make shoes more supple and lightweight.

Whilst we no longer have artisans skilled in this technique at Paraboot, we are keen to continue offering a range of products using this type of construction. This is why we now have trusted partners located in Italy, Spain and Portugal who produce the models created by the brand’s design office.

In today’s world, the company is keen to pass on its knowledge. We have launched a series of initiatives enabling artisans skilled in Goodyear and Norwegian stitching to train the new generation in producing a French-made dress shoe.

A true French brand, from raw materials to advertising campaigns

Here at Paraboot, it’s all about the made in France concept from start to finish. When we initially choose our raw materials, we source the majority of our leather from French tanneries favoured by major luxury fashion houses. As an example, the Suportlo leather used on our Michael and Avignon models comes from the Haas Degermann tannery in Alsace – and has done so for over 70 years.

The manufacturing process itself is also French, with the 150 steps required to manufacture each shoe arranged as follows:


Sheets of rubber are pressurised and heated to a high temperature so that they mould to the shape of the sole. This type of rubber sole is found on most of the brand’s models.


We cut out the leather using specific patterns for each model and shoe size. There may be slight nuances between different leathers. However, we make sure we cut out all the parts for a pair of shoes from the same piece of leather.


We assemble and stitch the various pieces of leather to form the body of the shoe, known as the upper. We sometimes add decorative stitches to the model for aesthetic purposes.


The upper is attached to the sole using a range of techniques. In the brand’s workshop located in the Isère region, we use the stitched technique. The assemblers produce Norwegian or Goodyear stitching, with the latter depending on the style of the shoe.


We hand-finish each pair of shoes: brushing, waxing and applying laces. Each pair is then inspected by an expert eye before being placed in a box, ready to be dispatched to their lucky owner.

The manufacturing process still uses traditional techniques, even though machines have been installed to assist the artisans in their work. In the same vein, the brand is keen to champion French craftsmanship.

Generation after generation, these artisans work tirelessly every day to shape our world using only the very best materials. This is why we showcase “real people” in the brand’s official communications, such as shipwrights, winegrowers, distillers and costume makers.

Buy well, buy French

Unsurprisingly, making a French shoe from high quality raw materials comes at a cost. Ever since it was founded over 115 years ago, this French shoemaking company has always had a local focus: from its workforce to its raw materials and the cows that produce its leather. Whilst this philosophy may impact on the company’s profitability, it guarantees a simple, high-quality product that is made to last.

In addition, the fact that our shoes are made in France means that they are repairable for our customers. Each and every pair of Norwegian or Goodyear stitched shoes can be re-soled, considerably extending its lifespan.

And to encourage customers to repair their shoes rather than replace them, Paraboot has put together a network of trusted cobblers with the skills needed to repair the brand’s leather shoes using the original raw materials.

To find out more about our models and see what happens behind the scenes of the French manufacturing process, feel free to visit one of our official stores in France, Belgium and even Japan.

Our sales advisers are the mainstay of the brand and its products, meaning you can continue purchasing shoes which are made in France.