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KLEMAN: Made in France

2024-02-26
KLEMAN: Made in France

Looking for footwear options that could bridge the gap between our classic Goodyear Welted shoes and the casual Novesta sneakers, we came across the French family-owned Cléon Manufacture and their KLEMAN brand. Beyond the 'Made in France' distinction, KLEMAN emerges as a European hidden gem with a distinctive style and interesting history.

We will start with the latter today - because although we know that products are key (we will come back to them later) and the country of manufacturing plays a significant role when choosing partners, we are also fans of good stories; we love it when there's something more behind the clothes.

 


Let us share with you what we learned from Alex, a representative of the youngest generation currently involved in the family business:

It all started when René Cléon, a shoemaker by profession, joined the front lines and was captured during the Battle of France in 1940. During his 5-year stay in a German stalag, he modeled small shoes in his spare time, practicing his skills and thinking about returning to work as soon as the war ended. In 1945, shortly after the war ended and he finally came back home, he established his workshop in the hometown of La Romagne, forming a team of apprentices and investing in his first stitching and assembly machines.

 



The family business gradually evolved into something bigger, with a new factory being built. Further, in the 1970s and 1980s, the second generation - sons Jacques and Louis-Marie - expanded and diversified the company's activities. Among others, they produced footwear for French administration and uniformed services: from railway workers, through firefighters and customs officers, up to the army. However, the KLEMAN name was created only in 1988 - until then, shoes were produced mainly under the family brand, Cléon.

Interestingly, the "fashion" history of these shoes is an even later issue, the story of the last decade. Thanks to the Japanese, interested in traditional European style, shoes that had been previously worn by French and treated as a practical and reasonable choice have gained more attraction and earned them an international career within the last 10 years. Of course, to this day they are continued to be made in a family-owned workshop in Anjou, in the west of France.

 
 

We reached for KLEMAN shoes for the first time on the occasion of the premiere of our fall/winter collection and the limited "Baltic" series, prepared in cooperation with Michał Kędziora - and now, with the premiere of Przedwiośnie/Early Spring drop, we are adding 2 new color versions of the Padror model, a design based on traditional Tyrolean shoes.

This is a good opportunity to share our impressions from the last few months spend with these shoes - we asked our brave testers, members of the Poszetka team, for a short comment on everyday life with their KLEMANs.

 

Tomek

I'll start by repeating what I've already said once: these are definitely the most comfortable "classic" shoes I have. Ever since the first pairs came to us for testing, I haven't been separated from them. I’ve tried them on and then went home without taking them off!

The design of the stitching and the lacing remind me of a chukka boot, which greatly affects the comfort of putting on and lacing. Their weather resistance is also an important factor - the thicker rubber sole works well even in the wintertime Katowice.

For the last few months I have been wearing brown suede Padrors, now I will probably reach for a grain leather pair - the vivid shade of brown matches the colors I wear in spring.

 

Benjamin

I bought my first KLEMAN shoes (Oxal model, high-top) with the intention of having practical-but-nice shoes for bad weather. In Polish conditions, this actually means the entire season between November and March.

After these few months of use, I can already confirm that they were perfect in this role, mainly due to what Tomek wrote about - a thick sole - but also higher uppers, which got me through this year's snow. I usually wear them with jeans or flannels, paired with warm Shetland sweaters - this is my "urban workwear".

If I were to buy another pair, it would be the Padror Noir model - a casual but elegant replacement for my favorite black Converse sneakers.

 


Well, the versatility of these shoes is hard to beat. They will work whenever classic oxfords or brogues might seem a bit too stiff (pun intended) while sneakers too usual... that is, today, in the post-Covid world, basically anytime and anywhere

We recommend black grained leather especially to those who have been afraid of black in everyday sets - as long as the style of the shoes is not overly formal (and that definitely cannot be said about the Padror model), this color will be incredibly versatile, especially when combined with other dark colors. For a change, the brown version will be a little less urban and a little more country; perfect for fans of earthy colors in their wardrobe.

 

Beige suede? Let us say this: although such bright shoes may seem difficult to pair, they really are not. It's a color that looks great in combination with denim: from the darkest, raw indigo, to a well worn, washed-out blues - and if you're worried about the beige suede uppers getting dirty, remember that you can always use a suede protector… or simply learn to enjoy the patina, appreciating the charm of small scratches and spots, as is the case with sneakers. Alternatively, brown suede is always a safe choice - it's a classic; a shoe that can easily find its way to almost any wardrobe.

In the future, we will probably reach for some more options - let us know if you have any suggestions!

Check out the full range of KLEMAN shoes available >>> Here

 
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