Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Pataugas, meaning “pâte-au gaz” [gas rubber paste], is a French shoe brand that has endured since the mid 20th century. The brand name Pataugas was created based on the story of the company founder, René Jean Benjamin Elissabide who, in collaboration with a local rubber specialist at the Giraudier shoe manufacturing company, designed a method of covering the soles of hiking shoes with rubber that was melted on a gas burning stove to make the shoes impervious to water!
Since then, and after a long and winding hike manufacturing for the army and every type of outdoorsman, the brand shines in partnerships with luxury designers (for example J.P. Gaultier) and an ever-changing hip collection of shoes for women, men and children.
Among many different shoe designs, the collection, to date, includes the softest leather, high and low top sneakers and boots, the soles and toe caps of which still appear dipped in rubber. And, because rubber soles are super-resistant, the brand still prides itself in making virtually indestructible shoes… which means that you might really need only just one pair of Pataugas!...
The original 1950 “dipped in rubber” Pataugas soles were patented by René Jean Benjamin Elissabide, who was both prolific inventor and serial entrepreneur. The French Patent FR1086185 titled Procécédé de fabrication d’un brodequin étanche relates to the original and famous water-resistant hiking boot called a brodequin. This manufacturing process includes other patented components such as the vulcanisation process, which transforms rubber into a much more resistant polymer using sulfur.
To the right, the three figure drawings extracted from the original 1950 French patent FR1086185 titled Procécéde de fabrication d’un brodequin étanche showing how the upper's lower edges are sandwiched between two layers of rubber sole in view of providing the requisite water-proofing. More recent models from the Pataugas - JP Gaultier collection are included above.
Just one more story about these famous, and now luxury, French rubber-soled shoes... René Jean Benjamin Elissabide operated in the Soule region of the Basque country (on the French side of the Pyrénées mountains) during the mid-twentieth century -- a region also known as the birthplace of the even more famous “espadrilles”, the rope-soled summer shoes that never go out of style...! 👠
Oh, patents! Espadrilles @ Patents on the soles of your shoes