The Last Beret Maker in France Is Struggling to Survive

If anything says French, it’s a beret. The floppy felt hat with the little nubbin on top is an iconic symbol for the country, up there with baguettes and cigarettes. The beret – there’s nothing quite like it to define French-ness.

The beret hat is an icon, a fashion accessory and a statement – it’s instantly recognisable as a symbol of France all over the world.  You only have to see someone wearing one and you can’t help thinking of France and French flair. Of course good style travels well and the beret has been loved by many from Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso to Ché Guevara and Madonna. Brigitte Bardot and Marlene Dietrich smouldered on and off screen in their berets, Prince even sang “Raspberry beret, I think I love her…” It never goes out of fashion. But today, the last of the French beret makers is struggle to hold on. Laulhere, the country’s only maker of traditional berets, has been in business for 174 years. It recently bought out its only competitor, Blancq-Olibet, which was almost 200 years old. But Helene Fouquet at Bloomberg reports that cheaper imitations coming in from China, India and the Czech Republic and a continuous drop in demand have put pressure on the local hat makers.

Until the late 1980s, France produced several million berets each year. Sales slid for decades, with cheaper products made in Asia. The nail in the coffin came in 2001 when the French military ended conscriptions, eliminating hundreds of thousands of army orders.

According to French manufacturers, there are some benefits to getting an authentic French beret. “If you don’t want to smell like a sock wearing a wet beret, only our traditional French beret doesn’t retain odors,” Mark Saunders, the head of sales for Laulhere, told Fouquet. “Small details like that make a difference.” On Laulhere’s website, they write:

Berets aren’t the only French business that is struggling. The country currently has an unemployment rate higher than it’s seen in 16 years. French companies of all sorts are hurting, and some are trying to promote their products as “Made in France” to consumers, hoping they’ll care and be willing to shell out a bit more for quality and authenticity. But according to Fouquet, Laulhere didn’t make a profit last year, and only hopes to break even this year. 

Hats have been popular among young people, such as beret hat, bucket hat, banana hats, Panama hat and so on. If you like hats, you can shop and buy one from our online store because of high quality and good service. We provide hats for summer to keep you from the sun and for winter to keep your head warm. We also publish fashion blogs to introduce some fashion accessories and cloth matching for girls and women. After reading these articles, you may find your favorite hat and become fashionable. Wear a hat that is suitable for you most and you will be confident.

 

 

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