Lactae Hevea

  • Introducing American Bison

    American Bison is a leather that we've been working with for a couple of years now, however, it is not a traditional type of leather for handsewn shoes so it is still relatively new to us. Each season we appreciate it more and more. There are many reasons that we love Bison leather, but mostly because of the story. The Bison is an animal that is unique to the western United States, and is a symbol of America. Add that to its distinguishing natural grain and the inherent durability and water-resistance and we have a match made in heaven. We're introducing three new styles cut from the finest American Bison pull-up leather. This tannage has a wonderful hand to it and a moderate amount of pull-up, making distinctive shoes. We paired these bison uppers with the finest Lactae Hevea outsoles. We're sure you won't find a better quality or more comfortable casual shoe anywhere. Buy them here

  • The best soles in the world - Lactae Hevea

    When I made plans to attend Bread and Butter in Berlin I knew that I had to make time to meet some friends and contacts in France. My flight was connecting through Paris, so this was a no-brainer. At the top of my priorities was to visit Reltex in Virieu, a very small mountainside town situated between Lyon and Grenoble. It was a little bit of a challenge to get there: two and a half hour train, met at the station by Patrick Giroud, the President and founder of Reltex, and then a 45 minute drive on winding roads just outside of the French Alps.

    I instantly found Mr. Giroud to be warm, welcoming and humorous. He truly has a passion for his trade, it is no surprise then that he continues to do it even at 72. Reltex and Mr. Giroud are responsible for bringing the world Lactae Hevea (pronounced lack-tie heavy-ah, the "h" on "hevea" is silent but you'd sound pretentious pronouncing it that way in this country) latex outsoles. Lactae Hevea literally means milk of the hevea tree in Latin. The soles are made from the sap or milk of the hevea tree. Essentially, it is 100% natural latex rubber.

    The milk is harvested in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam using sustainable methods and shipped to the tiny town of Virieu in France, where a passionate and intelligent man developed a process for creating the most comfortable and durable rubber outsoles in the world. There really is nothing like it in the world, and nobody else does it. It is tedious and expensive and imprecise.

    The milk is poured by hand into steel molds. The steel molds are resting in a warm water bath and will set in the bath for one hour before they remove the sole and transfer it immediately into a cold water bath. At this point, the soles have the consistency of jello and are an odd off-white color.

    The rubber soles have a uniquely porous micro-structure, and the cold water bath helps keeps those pores open while the material cures. After one full day in the cold water they go into a hot-air dryer for one day. The dryer is huge and has hundreds of wooden shelves to hold the unfinished soles. After 24 hours drying, they put the soles back into the water for a day to keep those pores open, then back into the dryer for a full week until the soles are finished. The final process is trimming any imperfections and inspecting the final product before packing. It takes roughly 10-12 days to produce one pair of soles, a stark contrast from the minutes or hours it takes other manufacturers to produce rubber soles.

    At Reltex, producing these latex soles is a fluid process (no pun intended). If they feel the soles need more drying, they dry them longer. The colors are difficult to master as well because they are working with a natural and living raw material. Each batch will be a slightly different color. The drying, which speeds up the curing process, is only half the battle. The soles actually take months to properly cure. But with a worldwide culture that needs immediate gratification, we just can't wait. So when we cut and trim these soles to fit our shoes, we get to see the uncured milk inside the soles. We typically cover it up with dye, however in just a short couple of months the soles will cure fully and that light natural milk color will be gone.

    In our opinion Lactae Hevea soles, while expensive and imprecise, are the greatest outsoles in the world. They offer unparalleled comfort and durability. Not to mention they look great on just about any style of shoe we produce and the story of how they are made just doesn't get any better. We are currently expanding our offering of Lactae Hevea soles but for now you can find them here

  • Fall 2012 Lookbook

    Introducing our Fall 2012 Lookbook. Which, consequently, is our inaugural lookbook. We will continue to provide these looks each season so you can get an idea of what the shoes look like out there in real life as opposed to the white backdrop studio shots. These photos were taken in and around Lewiston, ME at the beginning of October - we hope you enjoy. Photos by Tracey Twitchell Pray.

  • Ranger-moc Green Shell Cordovan - Spotlight

    Every once in a while we like to spotlight a product that we use or make that we believe is special or unique and explains what makes it so. The Ranger-moc in green Shell cordovan is one of those really special products that we believe you should know more about.

    First, We'll start with the materials: We take two Genuine Horween natural unglazed shells and cut all of the pieces required for the pair of shoes. After cutting we hand-dye the shells using a process we've developed using specially formulated cordovan dyes. The dye is not pigmented, so it does not cover up the surface of the leather which can lead to a flat and dull look. The aniline dyes penetrate the shell and retain all of the beautiful characteristics we desire in shell cordovan. The outsole is a natural latex material called Lactae Hevea and is made by Reltex in France Click here for more info on Reltex soles

    Secondly, the construction of this pair, like most of our shoes, is genuine handsewn. Genuine Handsewn construction means that the vamp wraps completely underneath the foot and the top piece called the plug is joined with the vamp using an awl, two needles, and waxed threads to form the moccasin upper. The handsewer has the very important responsibility of shaping the shell cordovan to the last by hand, a difficult task since shell cordovan can be difficult to work with.

    Lastly, the hand-finishing of this pair is exceptional. After the handsewer's task of stitching and shaping the shoes is complete they are placed in a hot-air dryer for a couple of hours. This helps complete the process of shaping and fitting the leather to the last. As you can imagine, the hot air really takes the moisture and life out of the leather. So after they are removed from the dyer and have cooled, we apply a generous amount of leather balm to the shoes to moisturize the leather and then burnish the leather by hand to lock in the balm, smooth out the shell, and bring up the shine a bit. After the bottoms are in place, we apply another layer of balm and burnish again. Then we use a special brush polish and very soft polishing brush to bring up the shine.

    The finished product is a beautiful and unique pair of ranger-mocs with the comfort of a Reltex sole and the durability of Horween Shell Cordovan. This pair is engineered to last a lifetime. Available in black, color 8, Navy, and Tan (if you'd like to order a color other than green, just order the green on our website and make a note on your order to specify your color of choice).

  • The Lactae Hevea Sole

    One of the most unique products that we offer on our shoes is the Lactae Hevea outsole, manufactured by Reltex in France. While they offer many patterns and styles of lactae hevea outsole, the raw material is the real star. Lactae heavea is the milk from the hevea tree, which is harvested by hand (see picture below). It is important to note that harvesting milk from the trees is a sustainable process, it does not damage or kill the trees. After harvesting, the milk is shipped to the Reltex plant where the liquid is poured by hand into outsole moulds. There are no machines or harsh manufacturing processes used, just the passage of time. The result is a 100% natural outsole that is lightweight, durable, and extremely comfortable. Trust us, this will be the most comfortable pair of shoes you will own. We have one option available now and another coming soon. In the meantime, feel free to contact us if you want to put a lactae hevea sole on any style of shoe in our shop.

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