Article from the UK Telegraph on the making of jumping boots


Jan 29, 2008
Interesting reading.

You must always use a cream to nourish and hydrate. That’s the basis of good care.’ So says Agnès Poncet-Marchal, although the Frenchwoman is offering not her tips for great skin, but advice on how to protect a pair of classic Hermès boots. Poncet-Marchal is the head of the shoe business at Hermès, a position she has held for 15 years.

The company’s shoe designer, Pierre Hardy (who is about to hit 20 years with Hermès), describes these ‘riding boots for town’, which he first saw in the archive when he started there, as a classic. Are they the Kelly bag for the feet? ‘Yes and no,’ he laughs. ‘Yes, because like the Kelly they come from our history and have existed as something practical long before they became iconic. But the Kelly is more “elegant Frenchwoman in the city”, even though we now see it carried by very young girls everywhere in a more sporty way. The jumping boot gives a different allure. It is the contrary of pretty. It is daring, dynamic, Amazonian. You can see at a glance a union between the masculine rough universe and the very sophisticated and elegant femininity and that is very Hermès. What’s masculine? The shape, yet reduced to a feminine scale. I try not to interpret it at all, just make it a little bit lighter, just a little bit softer.’
At a time when clients are searching for investment pieces rather than fashion fripperies, the ‘jumping boot’, as it is refereed to at Hermès, is proving popular (Fiona Rushton, Hermès’ London communications director, says savvy clients were popping into the store all summer to ensure their sizes would arrive in time for a dip in temperature).

Although the boots have been prized for years, Hardy assesses the current demand thus: ‘The jumping is the antidote to the high, sharp, baroque shoes we’ve seen. It’s a return to another type of woman and to timeless elegance, although of course we also make it new. Sometimes we propose it in matt crocodile, or insilk print or in goatskin. The style is so strong, it remains beyond the materials we use.’ Poncet-Marchal chips in, ‘If you are a Chanel woman, you wear the ballerina, at Hermès [a companyborn of a humble Parisian saddler and harnessmakerin 1837], who we are is in this boot.’

Perversely, the jumping boot is made neither in-house nor even in France, but instead by an artisan bootmaker in the north of Italy near Venice. (Hermès farms out production of only two other product categories – its lacquer work is made in Vietnam and its cashmere is woven in Nepal.) ‘We go to the best, and the savoir-faire for footwear is Italy,’ Poncet-Marchal states. While Rushton wears her boots both to work and to ride at weekends, Poncet-Marchal advises equestrians to visit Hermès’ riding department much more by the feel; we use the most impeccable skins, we cut the two feet from the same skin by hand, not by machine; it’s all about the eye of the man.’ (For pairs in crocodile, a skin for each boot is required.)

Next, the leather (traditionally calf, although this being Hermès, you can order it in matt white crocodile if you choose) is formed over a wooden last and plunged into water for a couple of hours to give each upper a specific curve. Meanwhile, Swiss bull hides, renowned for strength, resistance and longevity, have been soaking for months in chestnut oil, which stops the leather from warping and makes it as waterproof as possible. This is used for the soles and heels, the latter built up with strata of bull’s leather, a costly and time-consuming technique rarely used anywhere else. ‘It’s important to use leather inside and outside the boot, because it is the only regulator in terms of humidity and temperature,’ Poncet-Marchal says. ‘This is exactly how riding boots were made a century ago,’ Hardy adds. ‘The cut of the topof the boot is slightly asymmetrical so it covers more of the outside of the leg than the inside; there are details on the stitching of the foot that all add to the authenticity. That is whatI love and respect. Even if people don’t see it, they feel it.’Of course, such a boot must be cherished. ‘You must never wear the same footwear two days’ running,’ Poncet-Marchal insists. ‘You must let your boots rest and never leave the leather close to a source of heat. Stuff the boots with newspaper and let them dry naturally, then nurture them with a cream and then a wax. Treat them as well as you would your own skin.’

Alas, to be the proud owner of such boots, you must first be possessed of legs of a Gallic slenderness. ‘Zips?’ Poncet-Marchal exclaims with something of a shudder. ‘No! The boots can be stretched, a little.’ (The good news for those possessed of shorter legs than a rangy Frenchwoman’s is that the company does offer a slightly wider, shorter version designed for the Japanese market.) One unexpected result of the global recession is that while the waiting-list for the famous Birkin has got shorter, that for the jumping boots is growing longer. ‘We have a few pairs in stock in London, and we will always do a worldwide search for a customer to find their size,’ Rushton says. But otherwise, you have to wait. ‘Every process to make them is long,’ Poncet-Marchal explains. ‘Every stage is several hours and the skins need to soak for several months; so yes, a client might have to wait six months.’ Doesn’t that mean that one may take possession of a prized pair of jumping boots in the middle of summer? ‘Then you have to wait again, until next winter, to wear them. Or wear them with your shorts.’


Sep 23, 2009
Thank you for this Ph I reallly enjoyed this read, it makes me feel a bit better about the price of the Jumping boots :sweatdrop:

Can anyone help with this please: do you need to use some kind of leather protector for the jumping boots, to protect them from the rain etc - we get quite a lot in the UK !