Junior Indaba
Company NewsProduct & ServicesSafety WearSouthern Africa

The legacy of the Maxeco boot from Lemaitre

Lemaitre celebrates 30 years of Maxeco by asking the question – is this South Africa’s most beautiful shoe?

For 30 years, Maxeco has helped build a nation with the world’s toughest workforce. Across construction sites, mines, farms and factories, almost 10 million pairs have helped realise the dream of a stronger South Africa by protecting the millions of workers who built it. Now that’s a beautiful thing!

Every legacy has to start somewhere. For Lemaitre and their iconic Maxeco boot, it began some 30 years ago when the brand was introduced to South African shores. It’s a story based on the recollections of the Innovation Manager at the time, Cedric Novis:

“In the late 80’s Bagshaw Footwear successfully bid on an 18 station dual density direct injection machine at an auction in Babelegi, even though we had very little knowledge on dual density footwear. We had a very strong range of military footwear, but now had to consider how best to utilise this machine. After much consultation it was agreed to introduce dual density to the safety footwear market – a first in South Africa.”

“We decided that we needed to manufacture under licence, and contacts at the SABS pointed us in the direction of a French company who had expressed interest in the South African market. It was during the first half of 1990 that we initially went to Lemaitre, in Strasbourg, and met with the MD and owner Jean-Michel. Our meetings culminated in a signed licensing agreement for Lemaitre safety footwear.”

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“We decided to position the brand as European styled, technologically advanced and comfortable; and went to market with the premise of ‘Why you deserve to wear a better safety boot.’ It was a great campaign and something that the industry had never done before. It worked and the workforce started to demand the Lemaitre Maxeco which was the only model we launched. You could have them in any colour you wanted, as long as it was black or tan!”

“The focus on the people actually wearing the boots is still central to the Lemaitre brand in South Africa today. In hindsight, we introduced the right product at the right time at the right price and managed to launch possibly the most successful selling safety shoe of all time in the South African market.”

And hence the Lemaitre Maxeco was introduced towards the end of 1990 – the first ever locally produced direct injection dual density PU sole on a safety footwear style. From such humble beginnings the Maxeco has since become the number one sold safety footwear style in the history of our country. It ushered in the era of dual density safety footwear, and is still the most popular style of sole in the safety footwear industry today. That’s no small feat.

Lemaitre’s new campaign celebrates the widespread effect of 30 years and millions of pairs of Maxeco serving South Africans. It’s been there to help build the country and its people. It’s created jobs through local sourcing and manufacturing. It’s contributed to an inclusive economy for all our people. And it has been on the frontlines of the nation’s industries, protecting those who are strengthening South Africa. Has any boot done more to build our country?

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