The two Charentais entrepreneurs Olivier Rondinaud and Michel Violleau bought old machines and formed a small team of experts to relaunch the star of the slipper… Extract from the magazine “1:15 pm on Saturday” of January 2, 2021.
Christian is installed in front of an industrial sewing machine saved from breakage to assemble the felt sole with what will become the slipper:“I grab rods, the top of the slipper and I put it upside down, because the peculiarity of this principle is to go upside down. That’s why we call it the sewn-back ”, he explains to the magazine “1:15 pm on Saturday” (replay). Thanks to the experience of his twenty years of profession, he is part of the small team of Atelier Charente, co-founded by Olivier Rondinaud and Michel Violleau in La Rochefoucauld, in the Charente department.
The two entrepreneurs saved the equipment of La Manufacture Charentaise, which was placed in compulsory liquidation in 2019, leaving around a hundred employees on the sidelines. Without them, this typically French slipper risked no longer being produced in its land of origin. Christian is working to move away from this perspective:“There, I am putting on the sockliner that we call the ‘comforter’ because it is wool placed on foam which allows to have a… cozy comfort,he explains. We say Charente heritage, but it is French heritage. Most of the time, the French are represented with the beret, the bread… and the slippers. ”
“’Quality products’ are in demand today”
The Charentaise saw the light of day in the 17th century, under the reign of King Louis XIV. To make the legendary sole, craftsmen came up with the idea of recovering felt from the paper industry. For the slipper, they used scraps of fabric from the military uniforms of the Navy.“The houndstooth fabric represents the Charentaise of our ancestors and there is a clientele that still needs thisfabric, of this quality and this design“, Specifies Olivier Rondinaud in the middle of the future collection with multiple current patterns and colors.
“What is required today is to have quality products, that is to say the true Charentaise. Customers are fond of it ”, he rejoices when the co-founder Michel Violleau adds:“And it’s a natural product! The lining is wool and the assembly is cotton. ”What motivate the two entrepreneurs who could not bring themselves to see the disappearance of an iconic object of the national heritage, convinced of being carried by the return of the “made in France” more and more requested by the consumers.
> Replays of France Télévisions news magazines are available on the Franceinfo website and its mobile application (iOS & Android), “Magazines” section.