Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Customer Portrait: Michel from California

I'm not in the habit of posting about my customers, but the story of Michel is too nice to not share. After corresponding a bit about large berets, he told me a little about his history (where berets are concerned):
My father, a French/Russian immigrant told me as a child of the Chasseurs Alpins he saw in Nice as a boy, with their "immense" bérets.  So, when I was a teenager I asked a French professor I knew to bring me back the largest béret he could find, which he did.  It was only a 10.5 inch American (a Beret Hoquey, from Béatex), but I was very proud of it and almost wore it out.  
When in college my rock-climbing my friend and I would put ragg socks in our bérets as a sort of crash helmet.  Years later a student of mine was heading back to France for vacation and I asked her to try to find me a Chasseur béret (her brother was a Chasseur).  She couldn't score an official Chasseur béret, but in a mountaineering store in Lausanne the Madame who ran the shop said "But you mean a TARTE", and dug one out of a dusty drawer.  That was my main béret for climbing and skiing for over 20 years, and I wore it to Europe many times.  I even got to climb an alp with some retired Chasseurs, mostly due to the fact that I was wearing a Tarte.  
I visited Nay and bought a béret or two at the Musée, bought one in Paris, one in the Massif Central, one in the alps, two in the Dordogne, and the collection just kept growing.  I suppose I have bought well over 15, but I have given some away to friends who liked them.  I've got one in my bedroom as a dedicated sleep mask, one next to my easy chair to shield my eyes when reading, one in my car, one in my truck, and one in the tank-bag of my motorcycle.  
When we visited Tolosa I bought 2 bérets there, one at Elósegui and one in town at a mens clothing store, and for the last 4 years and last 3 trips to Europe the 35 cm Txapeldun has been my traveling hat, and also the hat that I wear every day around town in Santa Barbara.  Once I started wearing the really big ones, people took notice and remembered me as the guy in the big béret, and even my wife likes the bigger ones on me.  It has sort of become my brand and trademark.  Women of all ages remark on my béret almost every time I go out, and favorably, which is positively reinforcing.  So, long live the Béret Basque, and the guys who wear them!
I couldn't agree more! Great story, great pictures. 
Many thanks, Michel!


  1. VERY nice and interesting story! Thanks!

  2. Agreed! Would be nice to see more stories like these on The Beret Project! Thanks

    1. I'd be more than happy to oblige! Any volunteers? Drop me a line!

  3. Please I need the Txapeldun Beret grey amd army color...where can I order it online ?