ORIGINALLY, PIERRE CORTHAY
Long before Corthay, Pierre developed an adventurous spirit. As a youngster, he was exposed to art and the basking sun of the South of France, near Montpellier. He inherited an appreciation of curves and purity of shapes from his great aunt Valentine Schlegel, a ceramist. An early awakening to craftsmanship which led him to join the very demanding ranks of the Compagnons du Devoir in 1979 and for which he embarked on a ‘Tour de France’, working with the best shoemakers in the country.
The ‘Compagnons’ is a Guild which was created in the Medieval times and which have trained generations of exceptional craftsmen, builders of cathedrals, stone masons, shoe makers and artists … This Guild continues to thrive and works around the idea of a ‘Tour de France’ - basically exposing Compagnons/trainees to the best and most talented craftsmen of their time throughout France, during a year.
During this year of discovery and training, Pierre also developed a desire for travel and was exposed to the avant-gardism of Japanese artistic culture. Love at first sight !
1990. CORTHAY. 1,RUE VOLNEY.
His Tour de France completed, Pierre perfected his art by working with the best shoemakers of the time for a few years. Then, in October 1990, he took up residence on 1, rue Volney. Following on from a talented shoemaker who had started his business in 1947 and was now retiring.
At the age of 27, Pierre was launching his very own brand, crafting bespoke shoes ! A dream come true.
Quite early on, these incredible shoes fell under the watchful eye of Suzy Menkes - head of the fashion and luxury pages of the New York Times - who devoted an article to the Maison's promising future. She referred to his shoes as ‘jewel shoes’.
Pierre’s following started to blossom, with customers from around the world lining up rue Volney to be part of the action.
By 2008, his ambition to create the finest and most beautiful men's shoes was recognised and duly rewarded when he received the distinction of "Master of Art" shoemaker for men from the French Minister of Culture, of which he is the sole holder to date.
A RECOGNISED UNIQUE PRODUCT
COMFORT. DISTINCTIVE STYLE. QUALITY.
With its distinctive style, sculptural and experimental lines, the "fuselage" of the Corthay shoe borrows from the worlds of the automobile and aeronautics. In a single skiving-knife stroke, it crafts the lines of a racy shoe - contemporary, timeless and desirable. Whilst making sure of securing a key attribute - comfort - which is high in the priority list of the bootmaker's exercise.
The remarkable lines, the extremely supple skins and the irreproachable finish did not stay unnoticed for long. Japanese Department store buyers soon came knocking on the door of 1, rue Volney. With a simple request : can we offer your extraordinary shoes to our customers ? .
To achieve this, there was only one solution: design a ready-to-wear line ... and produce it!
The first step was relatively easy. With many years of experience sculpting the wooden shapes of hundreds of customers’ feet, Pierre had acquired a perfect mastery of the proportions of the masculine foot … Indeed, the lines of a ready-to-wear collection were quickly drawn. Soon after, a small workshop opened its doors near Paris to craft the shoes and fulfill the orders from customers. A new era was born - Corthay shoes were now available in Japan ! This was a major milestone, given the eye for quality and appetite for exceptional design of clients in Japan.
At the same time in France, a collaboration with the famous designer Yohji Yamamoto was a meeting of two like-minded spirits.
THE SUMMIT AS AN AMBITION
2010. NEW ERA. INTERNATIONALISATION.
In 2010, Pierre Corthay is joined by entrepreneur Xavier de Royere, a seasoned manager in the luxury goods industry, who takes over the management of the company. Building on the 20 years of existence of the company, the two men aim to establish Maison Corthay as a reference for excellence in mens shoes and leather products. Innovative, sleek, comfortable, timeless objects of desire.
This was the beginning of a new era, one of countless successes, which would lead to the opening of the second ‘lung’ of the Maison in 2014: the Beaupréau-en-Mauges factory. There, a team of seventeen passionate craftspeople are working to make the world's most beautiful shoes - the finest shoes, second-to-none. Excellence.
Initiatives are multiplying, notably the Corthay Excellence Run, which consists of a car rally which gathered exceptional classic cars from the 60s and 70s whilst celebrating excellence in craftsmanship. Colour and patina are invariably celebrated in creations, new materials are honoured (including the incredible soft camel leather) ... Maison Corthay creates highly-skilled jobs, and strives to make its know-how, overflowing creativity and innovation known!
At the same time, Corthay shoots its first advertising campaign with the help of rockstar - fashion photographer Bryan Adams. Headlining the campaign, the famous aesthete and owner of Hamiltons Gallery in London, Tim Jefferies, a long-time friend of the House. The star shot of the campaign (‘In his father’s footsteps’) sees a child handing Corthay shoes to his father who is about to leave for black-tie event …
Now internationally recognised, the brand opens several stores in key luxury hotspots (London, Beijing SKP in China, The Landmark in Hong Kong, Galleria in South Korea, Isetan in Tokyo, etc.) but is also distributed in the United States by the very chic Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus and the very best specialty stores around the world...
INNOVATION. NEW TERRITORIES.
For nearly 30 years, Corthay has been constantly renewing its offer in the light of the new lifestyles of its customers. Whether in a formal suit for a business meeting, a tuxedo for an award ceremony, or in a casual outfit for a weekend break, the Corthay man has a thousand and one lives.
Style evolves, codes change, and needs are transformed. At home or at the office, men sometimes dress the same. Men want versatility, comfort and to look good at any time. In keeping with its ethos of being ‘innovative and of the time’ the Maison embraces this evolution, because being a 'contemporary bootmaker' means doing things well, while remaining anchored in one's time.
That's why, over the last few years, Corthay is interpreting the casual code with a versatile and complete range that suits all occasions. Anytime, anywhere, there is a Corthay shoe which is right for you !
In this respect, the more casual lines bear the hallmarks of shoemaking know-how. And focus on a laid-back, stylish product without ever compromising on the quality. From the choice of materials to the patina work on the sneakers, soft loafers and leather goods, the audacity of the design is free-flowing.
From bespoke to ready-to-wear products, and over thirty years, Maison Corthay has shown that it masters the crafting of exceptional products, and its clientele is with no doubt aware of just how unique it is.