An Interview with Marc Guyot

Marc Guyot is a French boutique which offers inhouse designed shoes and bespoke tailoring. Its style is astonishing and standing out.

It is a great pleasure to talk with the founder Marc Guyot and feel his passion and interpretation of how menswear should be.

Tell us more about you, your childhood, your hobby, your education and your dream.

I had a quite happy childhood, last one of a family of three children, I was raised with a big sister and brother.Father a policeman, Mother an administrative accountant I studied at school first, college then faculty/university when I was destined to Law degrees to become a lawyer and/or counselor.

How did you fall in love with shoes or clothes?

My first “fashion” reflexes arrived when I was around 12 years old. I couldn’t stand being attired like everybody else. So soon, I was looking for a different pair of sneakers, a different pair of jeans etc…Already crazy about the old brands, the genuine authentic ones and all the storytelling that came with them.

In my mind in 1978-1979 Jeans were only Levi’s 501, everything else were crap and knockoffs. Favorite sneakers were Vans “Off the Wall” because I was skating at the time.

When I was 15-16 yrs old, I was mesmerized by old school garments everytime I visited a local thrift shop. With my spare change, I bought first some 60’s Eagle Outfitters button down oxford shirts, a very old seersucker single breasted jacket and some old, very old american tassel loafers.People at school were looking at me in a very weird way. That’s when I learned to never give any interest to other’s stances. Your difference, your unicity comes from this. It’s your freedom really.

At 18 I was already in a preppy look and way of life, harbouring tartan trousers with V neck sweater, pink or orange from Pringle of Scotland or Braemar for instance. Influenced mainly by old movies featuring Fred astaire, Joseph Cotten or Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart, as soon as I have an excuse to wear a suit, formal or casual, I tried to get the rare pieces that I saw on the screen. My dreams were a double breasted pin stripe suit, a tan donegal tweed 3 pieces suits etc…

I read a lot about dandysm, first english then the french dandysm, more complex, more difficult to apprehend. It confirmed the way I was genuinely thinking. The pleasure to be different, not a sheep among the sheeps, but something really different. The first expression of that way of thinking was by the way I dress myself.

At the same time I wasn’t 100% satisfied with all the garments I could find. I always had an idea to maybe enhance the garments I bought by alterating them, changing them, improved them. That’s when I went into the full made to measure world.

When did you enter this industry? What triggered it? Who were your mentors?

At 20 yrs old I started designing my own shoes. I had more than 30 pairs of Edward Green which were the highest standard back in the day in RTW welted shoes and wasn’t fully satisfied with the result. I wanted to change the last, the toes, adjust the designs etc.

So I began a quest among the oldest bootmakers in Paris, talking with them, learning with them, how to modify a last, how to make a last, how to design the upper on the last, then on a two dimensions plan.

At the same time I visited a lot of old school tailors in old parisian districts, learning also how a jacket must fit, how trousers shall be cut.

I went to london many many times, buying, searching for ultimate shirts like the Turnbull & Asser with checked bodies, white collars and three button cuffs, looking for ultimate madder silk printed ties.

At 23 years old my overall “look” was completely vintage, from the “30’s”, with every garments unique. Friends after friends asked me where I were finding all these marvelous products. My answer was always the same “I made them! I designed them, and then I found right people to make them!”.

Heavily influenced by the american 30-40’s professional magazine “Apparel Arts” and then “Esquire”, all the universe I created was like a time travel. Everything, every detail were in harmony with one another.That’s when lots of people around me asked me to find them these kind of garments or make them for them. That’s when my business started really.

As for mentors, I didn’t have any at the time, just my old bootmakers and tailors, really anonymous figures far from the sun, working in the shadow.

What is Marc Guyot this brand? Is it just a shoe shop? or a boutique? or something more profound?

The Marc Guyot brand is just that: a representation of my vision of mens apparel.

How it should be, all the harmony it requires, the balance between all its components.

I designed for some quite famous brands around the world and had to follow sometimes requests that I didn’t agree with. That’s why I always wanted to preserve my own brand and to keep the real spirit, no compromises.

So yes, Marc Guyot has only one shop in central Paris which is more of a workshop and an office. But from there, I ship overseas lots of my products to customers that seemed to see the difference in my creations.

And of course I designed and manufacture some dress and casual shoe lines and ranges for several middle size companies.

How do you develop your own style? How do others think of your style?

Like I said earlier, deeply influenced by the anglo american casual & dress look from the 30’s 40’s. The Duke of Windsor’s (Edward the 8th) approach. The way he dressed, the way he was using huge checks with fair isle sweaters, brogue shoes etc, and all the influence he had on the american happy fews back in the day.

So I wasn’t in any fashion system, I was out of fashion by definition. I developed my style simply by reinterpreting the looks from way way earlier and mixing fabrics, checks, stripes and plains ones.

I don’t know what others think about my style. I just know that in the professional area, I’m deeply respected even by guys way way older than me. Some of these guys were like examples for me when I was young, now we’re friends. I think that what they respect the most in me and my work is the discipline, the passion I put in any new creation I make, and this particular taste which is something rare nowadays.

How do you get the inspiration of designing your shoes, they are very unique!

Shoes has always been my strongest passion. It’s like a extranatural link really. I see harmony or absence of harmony in any styles I watched. It’s like a second nature.

I make my lasts, from scratch, I designed all my styles. The process is like a painting sometimes. You’ve got to let your pencil guide you on the last and you will find naturally the right line, the right shape and the beauty of the assemblage.

Inspiration came at first mainly from old english bootmakers like Anton Tuczek or Anthony Cleverley  or Bunting’s, but also from 50’s US brands like Nunn Bush or Jarman Shoes for the more casual shoes.

I was among the first ones to add some dye on natural leathers to make a patina. I started this in 2000 and only Berluti were making this kind of effect on leather back in the days.

Having 50% of my business making suits, jackets and waistcoats in tweeds, irish linen etc… I always had a more complex relation with colors, that’s why I don’t just make patinas on shoes, it’s something different. I created colors on shoes to make them part of a bigger scheme. To be part of an unique outfit, like the ultimate accessory.

How about the profile of your customers?

Even if everybody is welcome to enter my world, years after years, a main profile of customers appeared. Somebody that likes or is fond of nice and precise designs using the right materials not low level fabrics or leathers. Only top level fabrics and materials.And with all this, the historic part. The explanation of why it’s supposed to be like this and not another way. The cultural dimension is very important and a huge part of my business success.

And above all, the Marc Guyot customer, even the most conservative one, will be different. Among a huge crowd, you will see him, unique , rare, because of slight, infinitesimal details. That’s what I call “Grace”. Without grace and harmony you won’t achieve any elegance.

How is your business going? do you have some grander plans?

Business has always been good because the way I do things. I’m small but I don’t have any real competitors.

When somebody discover my creations, either he doesn’t feel anything special, or he becomes crazy even obsessed about all my ideas. I’ve got real faithful customers around the world, some of them that follows me for 20 years even.

We had as almost everybody around the world a rough year due to the sanitary crisis. But I’m confident that all these dark sheets will evaporate soon and that people will start to see the importance to buy less but better, to buy less and choose well!

Do you think your shoes are very French or something more interesting?

I don’t know about that. Is there any french style anymore in shoes?. During the 70’s 80’s, French shoes were very conservative, short, bold, round on the toe. Designs the strict minimum like brogue, semi brogue, straight cap toe.

Then after 2000, from 2005 to 2015, lots of guys launched their own brands making very very thin and pointy shoes, saying it was the italian style. But italian people wear more english shoes like Trickers or Church’s than these weird pointy things.

My shoes are as said earlier directy influenced by the British/American past. The way I refine things at the extreme, maybe that’s what the french way of life is. It comes from our way of life. In anything we try to find beauty, and if we don’t find it, we create it!

Please say something to Chinese shoe lovers.

As I say earlier, I have customers around the world and from the five continents. So everytime I met or exchange with a customer around the world I’m always mesmerized by the way with all these very different cultures and pasts, we could commune on simple items like shoes. If Beauty is universal, skills to make good shoes were reserved in the past to a few countries mostly in Europe but not anymore and I’m really glad of it. I saw some really beautiful creations from a bootmaker from Beijing for instance!

And if Chinese shoe lovers fall in love with my creations it would be a honor.

All my work is about emotion after all!

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