Espadrille is a great summer favorite. The traditional Spanish rope sole slipper is down to earth informal, pretty, and flattering.
A few things you should know to have a happy espadrille wearing experience:
- Go authentic. Not for romantic reasons (even though that counts too), but for practical considerations. Everyone makes espadrilles these days, but the companies that mass produce them often miss the mark. A rope sole shaped by hand and not by a machine will adapt much better to your foot. A hand-stitched espadrille will not fall apart on you like the machine made one. Mass produced espadrilles are glued together – stitches on those are purely ornamental. I also don’t see the point of buying premium espadrilles made by major global luxury brands. They are no better in quality than the high end Spanish espadrilles, but they cost more.
- Give your espadrilles a break by not wearing them all day and every day. The rope sole is good at absorbing sweat, but it is an organic material and it needs to be aired out in order to keep the bacteria in check. Going over the fabric upper with a moist cloth to prevent street dust from settling in will help keep your espadrilles looking fresh longer.
- Pick up your feet! Rope sole is heavier than the ones used in regular shoes.
Authentic espadrilles can only be found in Spain, where people have spent centuries, literally, sewing them for themselves and their neighbors. Outside Spain, the most basic and affordable Spanish espadrilles are sold by Espadrille Store based in Montreal, Canada. The espadrilles are made in Cervera del Rio Alhama, La Rioja. Local artisans work as a team using traditional craft techniques and equipment.
I’ve always admired Spanish designers for making really simple things beautiful. Only in Spain have I seen regular textile fabrics so attractive, so durable, and so adaptable to modern fashion.
I have to say that basic fabric upper espadrilles tend to lose their fresh look in one season. Also, cotton insoles wear out to shreds pretty quickly, which can make walking uncomfortable. Companies that manufacture more elaborate, higher end espadrilles, like Gaimo and Vidoretta from La Rioja, Castañer and Paloma Barceló in Catalonia, use better quality leather or leather and fabric combination insoles.
Gaimo gets rave reviews in Europe and beyond, including from readers of this blog. That’s why I am happy to recommend them, even though I myself don’t own a pair of Gaimo espadrilles. I have tried them on, touched them, smelled them etc, so I can attest to the quality and feel of the shoes, but the fit is a bit too narrow for my foot. If your foot is wide or between normal and wide, Gaimo may not work. That said, it also depends on the model.
YOOX, my shopping partner, carries a pretty large selection of Gaimo shoes. Some are basic espadrilles, with mixed leather and fabric uppers. Some are leather sandals with rope soles. All soles are finished with a thin layer of vulcanized rubber, for increased comfort and durability.
Vidoretta is another innovative and design-focused espadrille maker. The highlight of their Spring-Summer 2016 collection is their techno mesh slip-on sneaker.
Sequin, leather, and lamé fabric are also a hit this summer. A word of caution: Vidorreta‘s fit on is on a narrow side, like Gaimo.
Castañer, also on YOOX, uses great artistry in creating unique woven fabric uppers for their espadrilles.
A perforated leather sneaker by Palomitas by Paloma Barceló, available through YOOX. Palomitas is a casual line of the Paloma Barceló fashion espadrille brand.
Happy espadrille summer!