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A "brief" history of the 155 years of Aigle
1850 : Somewhere in the USA...
Hiram Hutchinson and Charles Goodyear "talk business".
Charles and Hiram were both fond of the cauchu (literally "weeping tree" - rubber tree - in Amerindian). The former invented a vulcanisation process that made latex irreversibly elastic and waterproof, while the latter bought his patent to make shoes, boots and protective clothing.
Charles preferred tyres and America while Hiram went for boots and to France.
1853 : The Eagle has landed
People who spend their time outdoors need protection and rubber is the best protection against rain. With a 90% rural population, France offered a fabulous market. Hiram Hutchinson was convinced of it.
He landed in France, and in Montargis he set up "La Compagnie du Caoutchouc Souple" (The Flexible Rubber Company) which produced waterproof shoes, boots and clothes on a large scale. He patented the brand "A L'Aigle" as a tribute to the American Bald Eagle.
The Roaring Twenties : Aigle got wheels and wowed the Parisiennes
During this frenzied decade, the French were getting into cars and women's skirts were getting skimpier. A L'Aigle went industrial, manufacturing belts and car mats (the beginnings of the branch that was to become Hutchinson) and offered chic "parisiennes" raincoats, reversible gabardines, light pink coated underwear, corset fabric and of course city boots and shoes, all in rubber!
The Fifties : off to the gym !!!
Well established in the countryside (hunters, fishermen, farmers all wore Aigle), popular among city dwellers (who liked their raincoats, rubber and canvas shoes), Aigle developed its ranges, segmented its collections and embraced the leisure sports and school markets. Rubber-soled basketball and tennis shoes and plimsolls invaded playgrounds and the most prestigious sports fields.
The shoe workshop employed some 1,850 staff and manufactured 30,000 pairs a day.
1967 - 1968 : Aigle moved to a former US military base and set up the most modern shoe plant in Europe
Goodbye too small Montargis, hello Ingrandes (near Châtellerault). Aigle took over 30 hectares of a former US military base to set up the most up-to-date shoe plant in Europe. The warehouse could stock up to 2 million pairs of shoes and boots and dispatch 75,000 pairs a day, with a production capacity of 10 million pairs a year. Aigle, as part of Hutchinson, bought out the Kléber Colombes plant and incorporated the Au Coq brand.
1972 : Aigle went to sea with Marc Pajot
Blue boots with two white stripes... The boots worn by all sailors were developed with Marc Pajot for the Munich Olympics. The brand got into step with the modern world.
1973 : Aigle got into riding and became the top brand worldwide
A revolution in the small world of horses. Aigle invented Ecuyer, the boots bent hell for leather on looking like leather. The boots were made of Slush® (synthetic rubber). A workshop was set up to process this new material and manufacture the boots. Ecuyer has become the top-selling riding boot worldwide.
The Eighties: Taking a natural turn
The French were getting into jogging and aerobics. Sports shoes relinquished latex in favour of microcellular foam, air and other new shock absorbers. Aigle, whose core business was rubber, was struggling but soon got back on its feet.
Aigle naturally re-centred the firm on its core market: sea and country, by developing textile and shoe lines with the "outdoor protection" angle. Parallel to this, a boutiques and corners distribution policy was implemented, which for the time was both canny and innovative :
- 1988 : development of the first range of hiking shoes
- 1989 : launch of the first "country" textile collection
- 1990 : opening of the first flagship shop on the Boulevard St Germain in Paris
1991 - 92 : launch of the nautical and hiking textile range.
Policy of setting up corners in department stores.
1993 : Aigle in the land of the rising sun
The young Japanese are fascinated with American culture, making outdoors a strong fashion trend. However, Japanese and American cuts are not the same. Aigle was smart enough to adapt and develop a clothing licence in Japan. "French touch" outdoor wear was a hit. In October 93, Aigle opened the first Japanese shop in the Shibuya quarter of Tokyo (220 sq m) and in April 94 in Yokohama (440 sq m).
1994 : The Eagle flew the nest and was listed on the Stock Exchange
Aigle struck out on its own, without Hutchinson. With Apax Partners holding an 80% stake, the company went public on the second market at the Paris Stock Exchange.
1995 : Aigle opened its first franchise boutique in Strasbourg.
1996 : The Copeland jacket was launched
Aigle sold hundreds of thousands of this famous 18.104.22.168 sailor's jacket. The same year, the Parcours rubber boots with a difference were launched, with a double-density sole and an ultra comfortable cut. Europeans would wear nothing else.
1997 : Aigle sales reached 500 million French francs in turnover.
10 stores in France and 20 in Japan. Launch of the "travel" textile range. Safari jackets and reporter-type waistcoats were a runaway success .
2000 : Aigle sales reached 800 million French francs in turnover.
102 worldwide of which 46 in Europe and 56 in Asia, opening of 2 Europe stores Londres and Düsseldorf.
2001 : High Tech Aigle
Launch of the ACTIMUM lines, high tech for sailing, hiking and (take out free ride) skiing. Pure technology with very streamlined designs.
2003 : celebrates its 150th birthday
Aigle lands on the American continent with a licence for 330 department stores. Launches the "Essentials" collection with designer Eric Bergère and gets 12 young designers to re-style the Aigle boots of their childhood.
2005 : A new image
With its new shop concept and its new logo, Aigle has taken on a truly modern image. The logo is enriched by a symbol: the “A” of Aigle has changed into a stylised and dynamic bird in flight. Ethereal, covering all territories from the mountains to the plains and from the lakes to the oceans, transmitting the values that form the foundation of the brand: emotion and dreams.
A new step in the international development of the brand in Asia with the signature of a joint venture in China between Aigle and Lining, the leading Chinese brand of sporting goods.
2006 : Aigle UK
Aigle International opens its new subsidiary office in rural Berkshire.
2007 : Aigle - AREVA Challenge
Aigle and AREVA Challenge have become associated so as to win the 32nd America’s Cup, Aigle is the official supplier of the French AREVA Challenge team
189 shops in the world: including 64 in France, 17 in Europe and 108 in Asia