Leopard & black

Leopard & black

Espadrilles have been made in Pyrennean Catalonia (Spain) and the Occitania region since the 14th century at least, and there are shops in the Basque country (Spain) still in existence that have been making espadrilles for over a century. The oldest, most primitive form of espadrilles goes as far back as 4000 years. Traditional espadrilles have an canvas upper with the toe and vamp cut in one piece and seamed to the rope sole at the sides. Often they have laces at the throat that are wrapped around the ankle to hold the shoes securely in place. Traditional espadrilles are worn by all.

La Ramblas, street in Barcelona

La Ramblas, street in Barcelona

A must when in Spain, is to visit an espadrille workshop. La Manual Alpargatera, the workshop we shopped, started their business just after the Spanish Civil War in the 1940s. The shop is near the Ramblas, the most popular street in Barcelona. La Manual is a must visit for the informed traveler and a yearly appointment for the folks of Barcelona. Tom and I enjoyed selecting the sole, the tops, the colors.

Like picking candy, which one?

Like picking candy, which one?

Yes! We did, we went shopping in Spain. The espadrille is an ecological light shoe made with natural materials like hemp and jute. The soles can be rubber. Those are for street walking. Jute soles are more delicate, but they are so soft, it’s tempting to wear them for everything. You can get sneakers, or high wedgies. Men wear them as well as women and children. images-7 images-9

Tom bought a couple of pair, I bought several, in different colors, for me and for gifts. The owner of the store worked with us. He told us to buy them one size smaller because they stretch. It’s difficult to get them on, but once you do, they fit fine, and they do stretch.

In those 4000 years, the tradition has survived, with variations, you can imagine, but the basics have not changed. The shoe offers comfortable footwear that fit any feet. images-10 images

Care is easy. Wear on dry ground. If they get wet, the hemp/jute (vegetable fibers) soak up the water. The drenched sole will deform due to weight of the wearer’s body. But they can be redeemed. Wash them with soap and water right away. If hand sewn, wash by hand in cold water, rinse well and dry. This prevents rot. For the washing machine, use a short program and cold water. White or cream colored espadrilles sometimes yellow if the canvas dries before the sole. If that happens, when dry, clean the canvas with bleach mixed in water to whiten.

Here’s where – Carrer d’Avinyo, 7 – 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Tel. +34 933 010 172 – amanualalpargatera.coml

Are you espardrille owners? What do you like about them?

 

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