Le Laboureur, or ‘The Ploughman’, is a French, workwear brand, founded in 1956. The company was conceived of by a man named Primo Zalenti in the small town of Digoine in Burgundy, France.
As the name suggests, Le Laboureur’s first focus was on garments for agricultural workers. However, their direction shifted over the years to encompass workwear more widely. Since this shift, Le Laboureur have provided workwear for both the French Postal Service and Junya Watandabe.To this day, traditional patterns and high quality fabrics are used to create hard-wearing, comfortable garments. Le Laboureur remains a small, family-run business, now with Primo’s son, Jean-Charles, at the helm.
Workwear has been an important part of the garment industry for centuries. Although it was first produced for those who were involved in manual labour, it now takes a much wider position in the market.
In many European countries, workwear came into its own just after the industrial revolution. Suddenly, people were working with heavy machinery which was hard on the body. There was a need for durable clothing, specially designed to withstand a heavy day’s toil.To take an example, grandad shirts were developed as a shirt without a collar was less likely to become caught in machinery. Leather shoulder patches on donkey jackets strengthened the garment for when a spade or pick might be shouldered by manual labourers. Each design element had a specific, practical purpose. It wasn’t until the 1980s that workwear started to be adopted by other groups of people. Doc Martens, for example, started as safety boots. Around the eighties, hardcore punks and football hooligans adopted them as part of their uniform. Le Laboureur follows in this tradition - a heritage French brand which has provided real workwear solutions as well as people who look for quality and classic design in their clothes.
The Le Laboureur Work Jackets
Here at HANSEN, we stock a variety of styles of the classic French work jacket which Le Laboureur produces. The design is classic, with three pockets on the front - one breast and two lower patch pockets. There is also an inside breast pocket within each piece.This type of workwear jacket is often referred to as a Sack Coat, French Chore Coat, or Town Coat. They rose in popularity during the later part of the nineteenth century and were worn like a heavy shirt, buttoned up to the top. Conversely, some wore this style with only the very top button done up to show off the waistcoat they might be wearing underneath.Within HANSEN’s collection, we firstly have the Le Laboureur Work Jacket in black. In this colourway, the piece is made from 100% cotton moleskin. Moleskin is a material made from heavy cotton which is then woven and then sheared. This creates a very short and soft pile on one side of the fabric. The allure of this fabric is that it is both soft and durable. In fact, if moleskin is woven tightly enough, it can even be windproof. These qualities are very important for workwear pieces as they had to last but be comfortable enough to sit in each day. That is why Le Laboureur moleskin still makes up many of their designs. As with all their jackets, the Le Laboureur black cotton garment also features a gold embroidered ‘Le Laboureur’ label inside. We also stock the workwear jacket in the classic shade of Le Laboureur hydrone blue. This colour is significant as it is in ‘bleu de travail’, the colour worn by carpenters, stonemasons and other craftsmen. The Le Laboureur cotton work jacket in this navy-like colour is also produced using moleskin material, making it both durable and soft.
Here at HANSEN, we also stock woolen workwear jackets, such as the Le Laboureur Wool Work Jacket in grey. This garment is made from 100% natural wool and is adorned with brilliant red buttons down the front. The wool is thick and from the Ouessant breed of sheep. This breed originated on a small island off the coast of Brittany which shares the same name. Ouessant wool comes in a variety of natural colours, such as grey, but also black, brown, and rich whites too. The inner part of the wool, closest to the sheep’s body, is as soft as merino wool. However, the outer, protective layers are more dense. This variation adds a natural fleck to the wool. This means that you can use Ouessant wool to create virgin wool - the unprocessed version of the material. We stock the Wool Jackets in a deep, dusty blue colour and a natural beige tone as well. If you would like a Le Laboureur Wool Jacket review, come into the HANSEN store and try out the pieces for yourself. All of Le Laboureur’s work clothes are of the highest quality and are imbued with the rich history of Le Laboureur and the workwear tradition in general.
Questions you might have about Le Laboureur
Where can I buy Le Laboureur garments?
Le Laboureur doesn’t have its own stores, there is not even a Le Laboureur Paris. This means that you have to buy Le Laboureur from their stockists, HANSEN being one of them.This brand doesn’t even have an active Instagram! Le Laboureur has stayed close to its workwear roots so is not available as a commercial store.
Which occasions can you wear Le Laboureur?
One of the special things about Le Laboureur is its versatility. The Le Laboureur Moleskin Work Jacket, for example, can be worn year-round and on many different occasions. The fact that they are unlined means that they are completely breathable and relaxed to wear.The woolen jacket is the same. Although it is better suited to colder months, it is a smart jacket for daily wear as well as being classic enough to be worn for special occasions.
What else is popular from Le Laboureur?
Le Laboureur produce a range of garments which all have that classic workwear feel. As well as their jackets, they produce Le Laboureur shirts and trousers.Le Laboureur pants are very popular, such as the Le Laboureur corduroy trousers. They create their trousers in the same materials of some of their jackets, such as the hydrone blue moleskin design. In fact, it was the Le Laboureur trousers were where they started, creating a design with multiple pockets so that tools were close to hand. To carry on the strictly workwear theme, they produce dungarees as well.It is also popular to collect vintage Le Laboureur pieces from when the company was first founded. The beautiful thing is that the designs have barely changed.
How does Le Laboureur sizing compare to other brands?
The work jackets have quite a large and boxy fit which is something to bear in mind when you consider which size to buy. If you would like a slimmer fit, it may be an idea to size down. Of course, it is possible for you to come and try the garments on in store at HANSEN so that you get the sizing just right.
What is special about the Le Laboureur golden label?
This is the label which shows that the item is a true Le Laboureur garment. It reads ‘un vetement de qualite’ - a declaration from Le Laboureur that each of their pieces are made out of the highest quality fabrics and with as much thought as possible.
How did this style rise in popularity?
Over the past five years, workwear jackets, especially of the blue varieity, have seen a serious resurgence. Interestingly, one of the reasons given is because of Bill Cunningham, a New York-based, street fashion photographer.Bill took a liking to the jackets, so much so that the shade has gained the nickname ‘Bill Cunningham blue’. He wore them as he cycled around the big city, getting shots of the best dressed he could lay his camera lens on. His dedicated to the style is best Le Laboureur jacket review we could ever give.