The espadrille – that classic of Spanish summer wear – is so popular that there are scarcely any women’s shoe brands, from mid-level to luxury, that do not have espadrilles in their line-up. A great number of these espadrilles are made in Spain, often in La Rioja, a region famous for its espadrille-manufacturing companies.
Personally I don’t see much sense in buying a Prada or a Lanvin espadrille. Status symbol is not what the espadrille is all about. An authentic Spanish espadrille is a natural and timeless creature, inspired not by a trend, but by a way of life. It is not designed to blow a hole in your pocket, on the opposite: it is supposed to make you life easier and more enjoyable, so that you can wander around outdoors carefree, no strings attached. (Except for the decorative kind).
Gaimo Footwear is from Arnedo, La Rioja. The company makes high-quality hand-made espadrilles (rope-soled shoes) and regular leather shoes. I had been following Gaimo for a while, but haven’t written about them until now because I wanted to make sure that their designs are available to buy in North America. Thankfully, lately I started spotting a lot of them on my favorite North-American buyer friendly designer retailer Yoox.com.
What attracted me to Gaimo was the absolutely charming combination of the “simple life” aesthetic and modern design traits. The espadrille is a humble shoe and design has to be in harmony with its peasant roots. Gaimo designs are both poetic and grounded, elegant and playful. The uppers come in a refreshing variety of quality materials: plain, smooth leather, woven leather, fabric, and suede.
The company is headed by a father and daughter team. Jose Luis Iturriaga started the company in 1975. His eldest daughter, Esmeralda, the chief designer, began her professional career in London. She studied at London’s renowned Cordwainers College (now part of the London College of Fashion), where she was named Designer of the Year.
Jose Luis and Esmeralda, owners, Gaimo Footwear
Gaimo is export-oriented, with representatives in many countries of Europe (especially Northern Europe) and Asia.
Below are some of my current favorites, available in North America through the Yoox website. You can click on the images to check whether your size is still available. (The shoes go fast! One of the models from my list was sold out as I was preparing this post).