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Spring Court G1 : the ventilated tennis shoe
Here is a brand us French can be proud of (for once…). Originally created to play tennis, its history is nothing more than a tennis shoe which use progressively changed to fashion over the years. One would say it is a true picture of the evolution of our society. In addition, do you know this pair was the first to be called tennis shoe? Engendering the generic name? The G1 is the first style ever launched by Spring Court at its very beginning. From Ilie Nasatase to Kasabian through John Lennon and Serge Gainsbourg, here is the Spring Court G1 history:
1870, a cooper named Théodore Grimmeisen, born in Alsace, decided to leave his homeland to settle in Paris with his family. In Belleville he opened his cooperage factory. During their early days in the French Capital Théodore and his son, who joined the family business, were continuing their cooper activity, but soon this started to change as the son became interested in developping waterproof rubber caps.
1930, the family’s grandfather retired and Georges Grimmeisen (his grandson then) who kept more interested in rubber than copperage creates a waterproof rubber boot he calls Colibri. This first expérience in the shoe market will lead him to create Spring Court six years later. Wishing to find a pair to play his favorite sport, tennis on clay, Georges designs this special shoe people will call later “tennis”.
The Spring Court G1 (court worth for tennis court) was revolutionary at that time: its upper is made of canvas and the rubber sole is glued by a vulcanization process. It is flexible, waterproof, light as grippy, enough to become popular from many tennis players.
Its manufacturing process remains the same since 1936. The upper is being cut, sewed then put with the sole together in a aluminium mould. The whole will bake in a heaten at 300°F for 18 minutes. Without chemical additives, this process (vulcanization) offers sturdiness and flexibility. In addition to a second removeable inner sole (introduced after WW2, in 1946), 8 holes from each part of the sole ensure a good foot ventilation. The machine washable G1 is also ideal for foot hygiene.
The final version of the shoe is dated from 1950, just before Georges Grimmeisen’s death in 1956 (56 years old). His son Theodore takes the family business over. Soon they communicate on a multi-purpose product, both made for sports and city. In some way this avant-gardist communication initiated a movement, giving us a reason why trainers are so commonly worn today (at least we like to think that)
So, from the 60s the band is popular from prefessional tennis players such as Ilie Nastase and from the “stars” of the period: John Lennon wearing a pair of G1 on Abbey Road’s cover, even at his own wedding, then the “Gainsbourg couple”, Serge and Jane… Without being versatile, the “ventilated tennis shoe” can boast about being a symbol of a hybrid lifestyle: reliable as stylish, tecnical and decadent in the same time.
Spring Court won’t survive the 70s due to a strong competition (in financial terms). On the verge of bankruptcy, the Belleville factory has to close and the production is moved to Asia. Some years later, the myth remained intact rises from its ashes. The years 2000 witness the white tennis shoes coming back, it now incarnates the “chic à la française”. Thanks to this new era looking for authenticity, also to the Rautureau Apple Shoes Company who acquires the Spring Court license in 1990, the G1 regains its former glory. Again, movie stars and modern times troubadour sport it : Kasabian, Johnny Deep (I won’t write the whole list, we’re not a tabloid!)
The G1 was used by Spring Court as a basis to create new styles: the G2 is slightly different (lower sole, different upper according to people) and the B1 is a hip-top version created to play basketball. Many collaborations were made using the G1: Comme des Garçons, Hixsept, Beatles or Still Good… as always I made a selection of the best collabs. Ps: For those interested I have a picture of Carla Bruni nude wearing Spring Court shoes, but I may have problems publishing it :D
Did you know?
Théodore Grimmeisen, still owner of Spring Court, bought his old factory back to establish the brand’s headquarters there. The place is also a shop and a museum located in Paris, 5 Passage Piver,75011.
Tags: Iconic sneakers