Nearly a century ago, French entrepreneur Claude Chamot, an agricultural engineer, was determined to beat the elements by creating a waterproof boot that could withstand the harsh conditions of both land and sea.
Today, as Le Chameau celebrates its 90th anniversary, it continues to produce handcrafted rubber boots for outdoor and lifestyle consumers, with a renewed focuson U.S. distribution.
The brand has had an active retail presence in the States since 2000, sold in stores such as Orvis. However, according to lead designer Benjamin Chapuis, “We chose to [now] develop our online presence to build a direct relationship with the U.S. consumer for greater insight in developing new products and [growing] a stronger business.”
France and the U.K. are the brand’s top markets, said Chapuis, noting the U.S. could follow suit due to its large consumer base in categories such as hunting and equestrian. Now owned by London-based investment fund Marwyn Value Investors, Le Chameau continues to produce its rubber footwear in a Moroccan factory established in 1949 by Chamot. The founder’s love for the country was so deep that the African country inspired the brand’s name (French for “camel”).
The brand remains committed to its heritage, including classic looks such as the Vierzon (a traditional English shooting boot in the line for over 50 years).
However, Chapuis continually updates the product offering. “To make new styles, I stay true to our [core] values, reinterpreting them in a modern way by introducing new technologies and user benefits,” he said. “The designs come from studies on biomechanics, terrains, benchmarking and testing.”
Le Chameau, which helped pioneer the use of vulcanization, today utilizes more than 100 formulas of rubber, reinforced with materials such as Kevlar linings. And Chapuis said each boot is still handmade by a single master bootmaker.