This captivating French lithograph advertising Aigle brand tennis shoes shows a cute little fellow on a swing made out of a giant tennis shoe. He’s standing in the shoe and holding onto the shoe’s laces which serve as the swing’s ropes.
Part cherub and part adventurous boy, he is looking off to the side with an expression suggesting that he's enjoying his ride above the clouds and the cityscape but might have some reservations about it. His oversized orange cap, orange and white polka-dotted bandana and orange shorts illustrate the little-boy fashions of the era and provide a brilliant contrast to the dark background and a nice complement to his yellow shirt with its white cuffs and collar.
The colors also draw the eye to the lighter orange-colored rubber soles of the shoes. Since these new, amazing rubber soles are one of the main selling points of the shoes, it is interesting to note how the artist designed this poster to show off these remarkable soles (even making the trademark visible) without making them the obvious focus.
The French words at the bottom of the poster advertise the shoes, stating CHAUSSURES TENNIS L’AIGLE, which translates as “Aigle Tennis Shoes.” The red/orange and yellow colors of the text, set against the dark background, continue the bright color scheme of the boy’s clothing.
The history of this shoe company is quite interesting. After purchasing a patent for vulcanizing rubber from Charles Goodyear, American businessman Hiram Hutchinson founded a manufacturing company in France in 1853 and began producing waterproof boots under the brand name L’Aigle” (which translates as “Eagle” in English). In the 1920s the company expanded this business and started manufacturing premium canvas and rubber footwear for sports and leisure.
The designer of this poster is unknown, except the notation “Aly 23” is written in the plate, perhaps a reference to the artist’s name and the date (1923) of the poster.
This beguiling poster is a fascinating reminder of how much athletic shoes have changed in the past one hundred years. If you love beautiful, brilliantly colored vintage posters that tell a story - this one about the dawn of the athletic shoe industry - then you will fall in love with this poster. Its vibrant colors and the endearing little guy hitching a ride on the big shoe swing in the sky add to the poster's irresistible appeal.