Lifestyle Skinning Left, pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: Lifestyle Skinning Left for Specific Article, pagematch: 1, sectionmatch:
Lifestyle Features - YStyle ( Leaderboard Top ), pagematch: , sectionmatch: 1

Aigle takes flight in Manila

Aigle CEO Romain Guinier: “We all have a relationship with nature, even if you’re just off to your office in the rain.”

Aigle is French in its name, heritage and home base, being a family-run independent company with Swiss shareholder Maus Frères (which also owns Lacoste); but it actually means “eagle” (which happens to be the Philippines’ national bird). Founder American French expatriate Hiram Hutchinson created the brand in 1853 with his invention of the rubber boot using Charles Goodyear’s vulcanization process for rubber. Farmers were Aigle’s first customers; they needed the comfort and ease of its fit and material more than anybody, toiling all day in wooden clogs. Today, the wellies’ fans include Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, London queen of cool Kate Moss, her New York City counterpart Ashley Olsen, LA it girls Liv Tyler and Lauren Conrad and many more modern-day explorers and adventurers in the luxury market in 80 countries with 2,330 stores. Aigle has expanded into boots for hiking and sailing to outerwear like nautical and safari jackets, trench coats and ponchos. Korean actor Lee Dong Wook has been spotted in their down jackets. 

We caught up with Aigle CEO Romain Guinier before Aigle’s first flagship store in the Philippines opens in Uptown Mall this Friday.

YSTYLE: Aigle may have invented rubber boots, and today they’re a dime a dozen. What makes the original so special?

ROMAIN GUINIER: We’ve kept the expertise in-house and manufacture our functional and fashion rubber boots manually in (French town) Châtellerault. Two years of training is required to learn the 60 steps of making one pair of boots by hand, which uses 1.2 kilos of rubber. Our boots are made of natural rubber because plastic will ruin your feet. We have hunting boots, nautical boots and walking boots — we have Parcours, an anti-fatigue boot with a specialized sole and fit. We also have fashion boots with the same technicity. We’ve collaborated with Kitsune, Nigel Cabourn and Paul & Joe in the last three years.

Why is Aigle opening in the Philippines? How have you addressed our differences with your European market?

Lifestyle Feature ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch:

In Europe, Aigle is for daily equipment. In Paris, many wear Aigle to go to work on scooters so we are also suited for business casual. They can also wear it to the countryside on weekends where they have a family home. Families purchase kids boots as part of a family tradition. In Asia, since we opened in Japan in 1993, it’s about travel and leisure. In the Philippines, it’s good for traveling abroad, but we are also useful for the rainy season. We have an international collection for Asia with the design details and strong shapes in our DNA but adapted in terms of fit, a lighter fabric, and a variety of prints and colorways. It comes out at the same added value as those for European markets where it is cooler. You can wear these for all seasons like Hong Kong, where it’s warm and humid but it’s our best performing market worldwide with 18 stores and over 130,000 very loyal and passionate customers. 

What are your most memorable moments in your Aigles?

Oh! Many, many. Even before joining the company, I was the typical early adopter because my parents used to buy me the classic Lollypop boots. In our family home outside of Paris on the western part of France, we have many different sizes of boots from small to large with many colors. I remember traveling to the north of Europe when I was a teenager with a very nice Aigle poly fleece that I kept for years. I had the opportunity to go on tour with friends on a bike with a nice parka four years ago. I went to Iceland three years ago with a few friends and I will always remember having dinner outside during the cold night wearing my heavy down parka. I travel on a bike almost on a daily basis and Aigle is my daily companion.

What fuels your need for adventure?

Time flies by. This is what I learned from when I decided to be an expatriate in Latin America a long time ago: if you stay in the same place, your life becomes a routine and everything is going to fade rapidly. But when you are meeting new people, discovering a new place, and redefining the way you connect with different cultures and languages, that is not the case. I have much more density of memories in one year spent in Mexico than in the four years before I had in Paris. The need to discover more of the world is something people identify with. They may not be traveling to exotic places or fighting extreme outdoor turf, but we all have a relationship with nature, whether you’re just off to your office in the rain. Aigle transforms the unpleasant elements of cold, wind, rain into something positive. Aigle assures that you are well protected as you go out in the world, learn more, and grow. It’s like a cocoon.

What is the unique technology in Aigle’s outerwear that makes this possible?

For rain, we use specific coating system for outerwear, MTD, and Gore-tex as a reference protection system. More than technicity, we get to details in terms of a number of pockets for daily life. Some are compactible, some are 3-in-1 because of the second layer of product that you can wear separately. We have jackets with poly fleece and heavy down jackets for winters to a wide selection of super light technical outerwear to fashionable trench coats and wind parkas. We design these product categories, but we go to the best vendors.

You are also a living arts enthusiast, especially theater, and a collector of modern photography from 1970s Latin America and Japan. Can we expect a similarly inspired treatment in Aigle’s first store in the Philippines?

Yes. It’ll be a unique shopping experience as you get to walk through all the details of the heritage concept. There will be a boots bar to showcase our flagship styles. Apart from referencing French architecture of traditional flats in Paris, we will also recreate areas from our workshops to highlight the craftsmanship that goes into our products.

* * *

Aigle is located at the ground floor of Uptown Mall, Bonifacio Global City. It will soon open in Mall of Asia and The Podium.

Lifestyle Feature ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch:
  • Follow Us:
Lifestyle Skinning Right, pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: Lifestyle Skinning Right for Specific Article, pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: