Made in France: A long history and current products
When you think made in France you perhaps first think of food, then of luxury, then maybe of industry. France has a long history of creation of wonderful products and inventions such as the chip in your credit card, the minitel which preceeded the internet and knives.
FUSAC has selected a few of our favorite historical products that are still made in France as well as some current concepts. Cocorrico! as they say!
You probably never wondered what happens to all of the huge canvas posters used to present exhibitions when the exhibition is over. Or what happens to lifejackets from AirFrance flights at the end of their lives. Or how about the shirts worn for just one game by the PSG. Well Bilum, founded in 2005 by Hélène de La Moureyre, has teamed up with the museums, exhibition halls, AirFrance and the PSG and many others to create bags and pouches of all sorts from their « waste ». A made in France product from a made in France resource that was once garbage. The most recent creation, which is what caught our attention, is an ipad pouch made from the flags that once flew above the Grand Palais. The only unfortuneate part of this wonderful idea is that the production is ephemeral and thus exclusive and hard to find. Only so many items can be made from each poster or flag and so they are sold exclusively in places from which the raw material came. And they sell out very quickly. Bilum has a boutique website, but no bricks and mortar shop in Paris. Online right now you’ll find belts made from seat belts, pillows made from air bags, the flag pouches, shoulder bags from the Hokusai exhibition posters, and totes made from the draperies of the Hotel Prince de Galles ! http://www. bilumstore.fr
The Roger Cyclist
In the 1930s Henri Roger, created his own foundry in Paris 11th. He specialzed in toys, figurines and miniatures molded in lead. Soon the company switched to an alloy called Zamac (95% zinc, plus aluminum, magnesium and copper) and plastic, then aluminum. The first cyclists were made in 1945-50 with a square base to be used as board game pieces. In the 1950s cycling was all the rage and the company expanded and developed several models and sizes of the hand painted miniatures. The company continued to expand and also created molded pieces for industry. But the Roger cyclist continues to please and up to 500,000 pieces are made per year in the 1960s. Quieter years came in the 70s and 80s and finally production was stopped. But in 1992 collectors requests were met and production began again. Today Henri Roger’s grandson Jean-Luc Roger is director of the company and continues to produce his grandfather’s famous cyclists using the molds from the past. They are still hand painted too. « Les cyclistes ne sont plus son cœur de métier mais restent son métier de cœur. » says Jean-Luc. A piece of authentic France. Available on the Roger site or at several shops in Paris – see addresses on the Roger site.
Gabjo Concept Store
Gab and Jo, the first Made in France concept store, is the brainchild of Alexis Leroy. Alexis describes the shop as “an Ode to France”, a cabinet de curiosités, a visual and musical experience. He prides himself on the originality, quality and savoir-faire of the articles he offers. There is both hi and lo tech, leather goods, funny things, things for children, things to hang on your walls, knives and jewelry, things that will remind a French person of their youth and even a blue, white and red collar for a cat. It’s a fun shop for just browsing, but you are surely to find a quality souvenir to bring home from your trip or as a gift for someone back home. 28 rue Jacob 75006 Paris facebook
The Lip company dates from 1867 and is based in the watch making area of France around Besançon. They were the first to create a watch with a glowing face to allow reading the time in the dark. In fact the phosphorescent material was developed by Pierre et Marie Curie based on their discovery of radium in 1898. Under the direction of Fred Lipmann the Lip company becomes the largest watch maker in France in the 1950s. His biggest innovation was the creation of a distribution network and a guarantee that was valid in all of France. He was inspired after visiting the watchmakers and the Harley Davidson factories in the United States. Lip also created the first electric watch and the first watch submersible to 200 meters. Today Lip watches are still a respected, affordable and authentic French gift for men and women alike. Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle and Eric Taberly all wore Lip.