Christian Coculet takes care of the final stage in the manufacture of Charentaise. The one his colleagues nickname “Kiki” is perched on a goat, a tool with two metal feet in the shape of horns, which allows him to turn slippers sewn upside down. The gesture is dry, performed with both hands.
In L’Atelier Charentaises in La Rochefoucauld (Charente), Kiki is one of the thirteen employees that Olivier Rondinaud and Michel Violleau have promised to hire in 2019, during the relaunch of the Rondinaud brand, founded in 1907. He says having accepted this challenge to ” a condition “, that of power “Wear a pair” at his workplace. “Because in Charentaises, we are good “, says this 55-year-old worker.
Since then, his slippers with a plaid pattern have always been stained with dust, wool musts and threads. Because, within this SME installed in a former agricultural garage, the rates are accelerating. The company – it is already profitable – now employs eighteen people and manufactures five hundred to six hundred pairs per day. The manufacturer is benefiting from the surge in sales throughout France, in stores and on the Internet. Orders are pouring in. Those of the French Slip or the site La Pantoufle à Pépère. Its turnover is expected to reach 1.5 million euros in 2021.
In France, “After a decline in recent years”, the market for slippers, said “schloppa”, in Alsace, or slippers ” has woken up “, with the crisis linked to Covid-19, explains Dorval Ligonnière, director of studies at the French Shoe Federation (FFC). He reached “Its highest level for ten years”, according to Hélène Janicaud, head of fashion market research at Kantar. Sales grew 11% in 2020, reaching 392 million euros, according to the panelist. In 2021, they even accelerated. Between March and August, they jumped 25%, according to the FFC.
“The return of the slipper is that of comfort”
No offense to those who laugh at this return, the phenomenon is global. Consumers everywhere have been buying slippers to stay home, during the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns, and to slide their warm feet in front of their computer screens to work remotely all day.
In the United States, the market jumped 22% in 2020, then 40% between January and August, according to market research firm NPD Group.
Sales rose 11% in 2020. Between March and August, they jumped 25%, according to the French Shoe Federation
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