Thursday, March 15, 2012

Isa Bird? Isa Plane? No...Isa Clogs!

Located in the Pyrenees, France, Les Sabots' d’Isa is a small, ten-year-old artisanal clogmaker with an imaginative and diverse offering of clogs, all available in various materials (nubuck, cow and ostrich leather, etc) and wood base styles (including bases with “horseshoes)”. You’ll find in their astonishingly gorgeous collection some very fashion-forward designs, like the following mix of lace-up heels, boots, and a slide for men:

Click to enlarge.

Surprising, however, are the designs inspired by traditional wood clogs – and by traditional, I mean, “Sherman, set the wayback machine to a time before the industrial revolution.” But modern sensibilities infuse these designs to create a clog that is persuasively wearable. For example, this traditional Pyrenees birchwood clog comes with a leather upper to comfortably safeguard the top of the foot.

"Ancetre" clog. 75 euros. Click  image to enlarge.

Throw in the ability to customize the designs by mixing and matching uppers, bases, and materials, and Les Sabots d’Isa is rather like the friendly neighbourhood cobbler in a small town. Fortunately, that small town is the internet.

Eager to learn more about this charming clogmaker, I teamed up with Lindsey Cochran of Every Clog Has Its Day to interview the owner of Les Sabots d'Isa, Isabelle Segonzac-Estrade. Below is Part 1 of our interview. Part 2 will post on Lindsey’s blog on Monday, so be sure to visit Every Clog Has Its Day to read the rest of what Isa had to tell us.

Congratulations! It's the 10th anniversary for Les Sabots d'Isa.  Take us back to the beginning.  From what I've read on your website and elsewhere, I don't think you grew up intending to be a clog maker.  How did you first get attracted to the clog business?
The son of the clog maker!! I grew in a cultural environment, I liked the fashion and the shoes “last cry”, I did not know how to use my 10 fingers, but when I entered the first time the workshop of my future parents-in-law, wow!! Love at first sight for this dying job. 
How would you describe the essential character and appeal of clogs - yours and in general? What would you say to someone who normally wouldn't even think of wearing clogs?
That he should really try clogs! He can only be surprised by the brilliant comfort of these shoes on wooden soles, provided that the clog  is adapted well to its foot. A good curve of sole is needed, and the leather also has to hold well the foot. That is why I work almost only in custom-made product. And as a result, that allows to have completely different shoes, with a moved look, almost unique.
How did you get the idea to launch your own line?  You clearly chose the path of creating a fashionable line of clogs.  What inspired you to pursue that direction?
When I rediscovered clog (I carried it when I was childish), I discovered 2 passions: wear and make clogs. As I have difficulty in putting on shoes, I began to create models for me, according to my clothes, then to propose them. At first, I was very shy, I apologized almost for making clo), and then with years and the experience, I do not hide any more, I love my job, I like creating. And I like the idea to have contributed to put back the fashionable clog. In France, I am the only one to propose this kind of products, not necessarily fashionably, but "fashionable".
Alma clog. 135 euros. Click image to enlarge.
 In one article on your website you mention that your profession fascinates you.  How so?  What do you enjoy about clog making?
I like the contact of the beautiful materials, the wood, the leather. While fascinating to leave a leather end, and to create a beautiful shoe which more (and normally) is going to last in the time. I like the idea that certain things are long-lasting. Nothing more pleases me than to imagine a special model for which we ask me, for a marriage for example. In brief, I like working the leather, sanding some wood and planting nails! After 13 years (the company is 10 years old but I made 3 years of learning), I always have fun so much...
You also mention that you work in a place you love.  I believe that's the Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges region.  What do you enjoy about working there?
I remain the real countrywoman who likes the nature, the old stones, the peace, the luxury of the life far from the city. I grew to St Bertrand de Comminges (near Pyrenees), I lived for a long time far from my village, and I am very happy to have returned to it to live there and work. Besides, it is a rather important historic site, thus it is good with regard to one very varied clientele. At least in summer...
What's the secret to making an Isa clog? Can you tell us about your materials and methods? Can you describe a typical day in the Sabots d'Isa workshop?

The secret to making an Isa clog? Be and stay Isa, may be… I make everything in the hand (except for the sewings for which I use of hurdy-gurdies sewing machines which are 60 years old), with hammers and crowbars which have a good century, I work the leather, the wood, I cut, I pounce, I imagine, I spend a lot of time in the computer to answer messages because I personalize every request. And I work since 2 years with my husband, who is photograph at the beginning. It’s him who takes care of the web site. He also works on the manufacturing. Isa's clogs are also the clogs of joël... Without him, there would be no web site, not of beautiful photos... And fewer made clogs…'

That's it for Part the First. Part Deux at Every Clog Has Its Day. On Monday. Check it out! And visit to see more of the collection. Many thanks to Ms. Segonzac-Estrade for her time, and also many thanks to Lindsey for the fun team-up.

UPDATE 03.19.2012: Part 2 of the interview has been posted at the always excellent Every Clog Has Its Day.

Note: images borrowed from under fair use for illustrative purposes only.


mel said...

Frederik, thank you (and Lindsey) for this wonderful interview, and I look forward to finishing it up next week over on ECHID; the Isa designs are sleekly wonderful, and of course I would love to see more men decked out in such wondrous footwear.

Frederik Sisa said...

Thanks, Mel. I'm glad you're enjoying the interview so far. Isa does have some interesting designs for men tucked away in the collection. Hopefully more offerings will come our way in the future.

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