Espadrilles shoes have been a fashion staple for centuries, but who exactly is responsible for creating the original pair?
Let’s take a look at the history, traditional makers, and modern interpretations of these beloved shoes.
The history of espadrilles
Espadrilles have been around for centuries and have a rich history. The word “espadrilles” comes from the Catalan word “espardenya,” meaning a type of woven shoe made of grass or esparto.
The shoes were first seen in the Pyrenees Mountains, where the locals would craft them for their everyday use.
However, it wasn’t until the 14th century that espadrilles started to catch on in fashionable circles, thanks to their breathable and lightweight design.
Origins of the espadrille
The espadrille’s origins can be traced back to the Middle Ages, where French and Spanish peasants used them as work shoes.
The shoes were made of canvas and a hemp rope sole, which gave them their famous jute-wrapped look.
Espadrilles started to appear in high fashion in the 1920s, when famous designers like Yves Saint Laurent began incorporating them into their collections.
During World War II, espadrilles became even more popular as the US Army ordered them for their soldiers stationed in the Pacific.
The soldiers loved the shoes because they were comfortable and durable, and they also provided good ventilation in the hot and humid climate.
Evolution of espadrille styles
While the classic espadrille design has remained relatively unchanged, the shoes have continued to evolve over the years.
Today, they come in a variety of styles, from flat to platform to wedge sandals, making them versatile and suitable for any occasion.
One popular style of espadrille is the lace-up, which features a ribbon or lace that wraps around the ankle. This style is perfect for adding a touch of femininity and elegance to any outfit. Another popular style is the slip-on, which is easy to wear and perfect for casual occasions.
In recent years, espadrilles have also become popular among men. They are now available in a range of colors and styles, including leather and suede.
Many men prefer the classic look of the canvas and jute-wrapped sole, which is perfect for a laid-back and casual style.
Overall, espadrilles have come a long way from their humble beginnings as peasant work shoes.
Today, they are a staple in fashion and can be seen on runways and streets all over the world.
Whether you prefer the classic or modern styles, espadrilles are a must-have for any fashion-forward wardrobe.
Traditional espadrille makers
While espadrilles can be found all over the world, from high-end designer shops to street vendors, the traditional maker of the shoe remains in Spain.
The history of espadrilles dates back to the 14th century, when they were worn by peasants in the Pyrenees Mountains.
The shoes were made from canvas or cotton, with a sole made of jute rope. Today, espadrilles are a popular summer shoe, loved for their lightweight construction and breathable materials.
La Manual Alpargatera
La Manual Alpargatera is a family-run business located in Barcelona that has been making high-quality espadrilles since 1940.
The company uses traditional techniques, including hand-stitching and weaving the jute sole. Their shoes are known for their comfortable fit and durability.
In addition to their classic styles, La Manual Alpargatera offers a range of colors and prints, from bold stripes to delicate florals.
Visiting La Manual Alpargatera is a must-do for any fashion lover visiting Barcelona. The shop is located in the trendy El Born neighborhood and is always bustling with locals and tourists alike.
You can watch the skilled artisans at work, creating each shoe by hand with precision and care.
Castañer is famous for collaborating with famous designers and creating trendsetting styles. The company was established in 1927 and has been family-owned since.
They’re responsible for creating the wedge espadrille, popularized by Yves Saint Laurent, in the 1960s.
Castañer’s espadrilles are made with high-quality materials, including leather and suede, and are known for their comfort and style.
Castañer has a rich history, having made shoes for everyone from Pablo Picasso to Grace Kelly.
Today, the company continues to innovate and create new styles each season. Their woman’s espadrilles can be found in high-end boutiques around the world, as well as on the feet of stylish celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Emma Watson.
Viscata is a newer brand that combines traditional Spanish craftsmanship with modern design. Their shoes are handcrafted in Spain and offer a range of styles, from classic flats to wedges with lace-up details.
Viscata’s espadrilles are made with soft, supple leather and feature cushioned insoles for all-day comfort.
Their shoes are perfect for a summer day spent exploring a new city or a night out on the town.
Modern interpretations of espadrilles
Despite their long history and traditional craftsmanship, espadrilles have come a long way in terms of style and fashion. Here are a few modern interpretations of the classic shoe:
TOMS is known for its “one for one” business model, where for every pair of shoes sold, a pair is donated to a child in need.
The company’s espadrilles come in a range of colors and patterns, and the brand is beloved for its comfort and style.
In addition to their stylish design, TOM’s espadrilles are made with sustainable materials. The brand uses recycled polyester, organic cotton, and plant-based dyes to create their shoes.
This eco-friendly approach is just one of the many reasons why TOMS is a favorite among socially conscious consumers.
Soludos, established in 2010, has quickly gained a devoted following for its beachy, laid-back espadrille designs. The shoes feature whimsical and fun embroidery, making them perfect for summer.
What sets Soludos apart from other espadrille brands is their commitment to ethical production.
The company works with artisans in Spain to create their shoes, ensuring that each pair is made with care and attention to detail.
This approach not only supports traditional craftsmanship but also ensures that the people who make the shoes are treated fairly and paid a living wage.
Sea Star Beachwear
Sea Star Beachwear takes the classic espadrille look and gives it a modern, practical twist.
Their shoes are made of water-resistant neoprene and have a non-slip sole, making them perfect for hitting the beach or the pool.
But Sea Star Beachwear’s commitment to sustainability doesn’t stop there. The brand uses recycled materials to create their shoes, including recycled polyester and recycled rubber.
They also work with a factory in Spain that uses solar energy to power their production process, reducing their carbon footprint.
Overall, these modern interpretations of espadrilles not only offer style and comfort but also prioritize sustainability and ethical production.
By supporting these brands, consumers can feel good about their fashion choices while also making a positive impact on the world.
The process of making espadrilles
Making a pair of espadrilles takes skill and precision, and the process is as fascinating as the final product.
Here’s a look at the materials used and the process of crafting the perfect pair of shoes:
Traditionally, espadrilles were made using canvas uppers and jute-wrapped sole, but modern interpretations may use leather or other durable materials.
The jute is tightly braided and then stitched onto the upper, creating the unique look of the shoe.
The canvas used for the upper is usually made of natural fibers, such as cotton or linen, which makes the shoes breathable and comfortable to wear even in hot weather.
Aside from the materials used for the shoe itself, espadrilles also require specific tools for their creation. These include needles, thread, scissors, and pliers.
Hand-stitching and weaving the jute sole are both traditional techniques used in making espadrilles.
Each strand of jute is carefully placed and stitched onto the upper, then braided and woven in a specific pattern. The process requires skilled hands and attention to detail.
One of the most interesting aspects of making espadrilles is the fact that the shoes are entirely handmade. This means that each pair is unique and has its own character.
The process of making espadrilles is also eco-friendly, as it doesn’t require the use of machinery or electricity.
Quality and durability
Because of the handmade nature of espadrilles, they’re known for their durability and quality. The shoes are made to last, with a sturdy sole and durable upper.
With proper care and maintenance, a pair of espadrilles can last for years, making them a worthwhile investment for any fashion lover.
Moreover, espadrilles are versatile and can be worn with a variety of outfits. They’re perfect for casual occasions, such as a day at the beach or a picnic in the park, but can also be dressed up for a night out.
Overall, the process of making espadrilles is a fascinating one that requires skill, patience, and attention to detail. The result is a unique and durable shoe that’s perfect for any occasion.
From their humble origins as peasant work shoes to their place in high fashion, espadrilles have come a long way.
Traditional makers like La Manual Alpargatera and Castañer continue to produce high-quality shoes, while newer brands like Soludos and TOMS put a modern twist on the classic design.
By combining traditional techniques with modern materials, espadrilles are sure to remain a fashion favorite for years to come.