Espadrille

AKA: alpargatas

How to say it:  es-puh-dril

Traditional Features: 

Espadrille

  • rope or jute sole
  • canvas upper
  • can have long laces which wrap around the leg
  • can have a rubber layer on the sole to prolong wear

21st Century Espadrille

In the 21st century this jute covered classic is widely available on the footwear marketplace for both men and women. Present in a variety of styles, the modern woman can take her espadrille any way she wants it – flat, wedge, heel; sandal, pump, loafer, slide. The choice is endless and this summer classic remains a modern favourite.

Burberry JCrew

Burberry, J.Crew

RED Valentino Topshop

RED Valentino, Topshop

Origins…

…of the style: The espadrille, in one form or another, has been around for approximately 4000 years. Traditionally made in Pyrenean Catalonia and Occitania, the espadrille has been in continuous production for around 700 years, and have been worn by everyone from the infantry men in the King of Aragon‘s army in the 13th century to Salvator Dali, Lauren Bacall and Pablo Picasso.

From the King of Aragon’s army, the espadrille spread throughout Europe and South America, covering the feet of priests, mine workers, dancers and peasants. During the Spanish Civil War Spanish soldiers were apparently sent to the front line wearing espadrilles and in the 1940s Hollywood got in on the act, with star like Sophia Lauren, Grace Kelly and Rita Hayworth wearing laced espadrilles in their films throughout the decade.

In the 1950s espadrilles hit the fashion landscape and brands began making the espadrille their own by changing the colour of the canvas upper and evolving the design to make it more relevant to the styles of the time. A major change came in the 1960s when designer Yves Saint Laurent ordered the iconic jute rope and canvas shoe to be made with a heel – something that had never been done before. However, once the heel had been applied to the style it stuck, and the espadrille was forever changed.

In the 1980s the espadrille shoe was revived – by a man! Don Johnson’s character Sonny Crockett in the popular series Miami Vice regularly wore the style and brought the espadrille back to the forefront of fashion. Since then the espadrille has come in and out of fashion, for both men and women. The style, colour and heel height continually change with the seasons, but the jute rope sole, the defining feature of the shoe, has remained constant since the style’s inception some 4000 years ago. Given that the style has lasted this long, combined with its enduring popularity, it seems likely that the espadrille will remain a summer favourite for many years to come.

…of the name: The term espadrille is a French word that apparently comes from the Catalan word espardenya, meaning shoes made from ‘espart’ or a rope made from wiry Mediterranean grass.

For more info on Espadrilles try Wikipedia, Espadrille Store, Drilleys, Castaner or the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

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