Bridgehampton, N.Y.-- With its orange vintage Citroen truck blazing the way, the French shoemaker Galet was named the outstanding boutique among the more than 70 boutiques on display at the 40th annual Hampton Classic.
"The Citroen is very French and very iconic. We're a French shoe brand, and we do very iconic shoes, so we thought this truck was a great way to represent us here in the United States, " said Jonathan Horemans, one of the company's owners.
Horemans and his partners founded Galet in early 2014, and this is their second appearance at the Hampton Classic. Citroen first made these panel trucks in the '50s and kept them almost unchanged for 30 years. This truck dates from the early '70s.
Why is it orange? "Frank Sinatra said that 'orange is the happiest color,' and so we thought that the orange really represented the fun vibe we're trying to create. It brings a smile to people's faces," said Horemans. "So we use a lot of orange in our branding."
Horemans said that they restored and custom refitted the truck used at the Hampton Classic, installing a stereo system, cutting out the upper left side to create a counter and a window that opens to customers, and putting in a shelving unit on the right side. The truck, which seats two people in front, is roadworthy but can only go about 35 mph, so they have it towed to most sites.
The Citroen holds about 200 pairs of shoes, but Horemans has an SUV in the parking lot with many more shoes, plus a warehouse not far away. "Our company is based in Paris, and this is our office here in the United States," Horemans said with a smile. Galet owns two nearly identical trucks; the other is in France.
Over the summer, Horemans and the orange truck appear at an event nearly every weekend on Long Island, pairing with a retailer or a restaurant, or a show like the Hampton Classic. "We try to set up a fun vibe for everybody," said Horemans.
The shoes Galet sells are men's shoes, designed and made in France. "I describe it as a very comfortable, lightweight loafer. They're all rubber-soled, with either leather, canvas or cowhide uppers. The canvas ones are machine-washable. They're great shoes for the weekend. Many people would call them 'boyfriend shoes.'"
Galet shoes all have the same shape and same rubber sole. They range in price from $175, with an average price of $250. The cowhide shoes are the most expensive, at $295.
"The judges said that they thought we had created a friendly, fun environment, that it was something different from the other booths," said Horemans. "We're a luxury company, but we're doing it in a fun way-that's our ethos."
Further information on the Hampton Classic Horse Show is available at the Hampton Classic website at www.hamptonclassic.com