La charentaise is a felt slipper made in the Charente region, (Charente is a department in western France, north half of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. It is named after the Charente River.)
This slippers originated at the end of the 17th century, when artisans noticed they could recycle the waste from the felts used to make military uniforms.
La charentaise developed during the 18th century, the artisans then used another material, the waste coming from the paper industries, which was important in the Angouleme region. This type of comfy slippers were used by farmers, as layers to be slipped within the clogs, to replace the hay.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, these slippers were used by servants to clean the hardwood floors, using the felt sole. The Charentaises were also named "the silent ones", as they would not make any noise on the floors when worn by the servants and valets.
The Charentaise as we know it today, was launched in 1907, by the doctor Jeva.
Jeva's plant still exists today in Chasseneuil-sur-Bonniere, 10 km from La Rochefoucauld.
Jeva invented the way the technique to glue the slipers, and gave them bright colors, mostly plaid. The great success comes from James Rondinaud, who had the idea to export them all over the world.
There is a Musée de la charentaise et des tisserands, in the Chateau de Varaignes( Dordogne) http://bit.ly/2mmSzI8 .
In the 60s, there were more than 70 compagnies making charentaise slippers around the town of Nontron (Dordogne). In the 70s and thereafter, the global economy made it difficult to survive and a lot of compagnies disappeared.
Today, “le savoir faire “has not gone, and the special technique called “cousu-retourné” [sewn-back - reverse stitching] has made it a unique product.
The real Charentaises have an original label "certifié Origine France garantie."