Rustic charm sandals are symbols of what we in the Northern hemisphere call a perfect summer. It is the time to unwind, to get back to basics, to be one with the nature without having to put many protective layers between yourself and the elements. Of all Europeans, Spanish have perfected the art of dressing in harmony with your surroundings with a minimum effort.
Spanish sense of fashion and style is a reflection of the country’s long tradition of finding beauty in humble things. Materials like jute, raffia, esparto grass (which actually gave the espadrilles their name), hand-woven textiles are worked into shoes and accessories for durability, comfort, and a rustic charm that is often very refreshing, especially for urban dwellers yearning to get out of the urban jungle. Sophistication and rusticity are usually at the opposite ends of the spectrum – rusticity often means something coarse, roughly finished, even vulgar, but this cannot be further from the truth in Spain. Spanish artisans have actually succeeded in making rustic shoes sophisticated. How do they do that? I think that it has something to do with their famous minimalist aesthetic and their impeccable taste.
My two go-to companies for ultimate rustic charm sandals are Paloma Barceló and Castañer – two iconic Spanish brands that are largely responsible for mixing espadrilles and high-fashion. Their espadrille sandals are not cheap, but design and craftsmanship make up for that. Moreover, I’ve long been contending that given their high artistic grade the price is actually quite reasonable, especially when you find them on sale.
This summer, both brands have impressed me again with their selections of fashionable rustic charm sandals. Both brands are having a late summer sale, with 50% off some of the sandals, so it’s a good time to get your hands on some unique and high quality footwear.
The “Jara” espadrille wedge immediately attracts attention with its combination of black raffia fringe and two-tone cotton weave of the upper. The black and nude (or natural) jute wedge features the Paloma Barceló signature braided pattern. All in all, this sandal has a wonderful texture, both visual and tactile, guaranteed to get stares.
The two front straps and the back strap of this espadrille wedge feature a seductively simple, even primitive, textile pattern. The natural, unbleached color of the fabric will look nice against any skin tone. The sandals look artless, almost naive with their wide cotton laces and braided wedge as the only real embellishments. The “Cagiga” wedge stems from the same family as the “Veronica” sandal, which I featured in the spring, but is more versatile. These rustic charm sandals will combine with practically anything that you might want to throw on in warm and dry weather.
The “Ombu” platform wedge is a perfect example of what craftsmanship can accomplish with humble plant-based material like raffia. This lacy upper is a variation on the brand’s last year’s raffia collection. Obviously, it worked very well, so they brought it back. There is never enough of a good thing.
You cannot go more minimalist and more charming than that. This flat mule sandal is made of jute, with rubber finished sole and leather lining. The most beautiful detail about the mule is the frontal (and only) strap. The strap consists of four rows of mini-tassels made from a faintly purple cotton thread. And that’s about it, except the nude leather lining and the rubber sole. Again, it shows how much can be accomplished with very little.
These simple black crochet mules by Castañer are sparsely, but effectively embellished with an open lacy pattern on the top, wavy finish, and tasseled laces that go through two silver metal eyelets. Their austere elegance reminds me of the Spanish mantilla. Crochet is back in fashion, especially crochet mesh, and, thanks to a strong trend for unique, artisan pieces, it is here to stay. Of course, unique artisan-grade pieces is what Castañer does best.
The “Jade” platform wedge sandal by Castañer is amazing. Except for the nude leather lining, the small piece of leather for the buckle, and the thin rubber sole, the “Jade” sandal is is made entirely of wheat-blonde colored raffia.
Hands down, these are the ultimate rustic charm sandals.
Finally, I could not help adding a bag. But what bag!
I fell in love with the La Portegna brand last year and have not been disappointed. The “Lucia” mini jute bag is another astonishing example of the high level craftsmanship that goes into all La Portegna bags and accessories. Tightly woven into a chevron pattern color of golden wheat, this bag is the pinnacle of natural luxury. It is a great demonstration of what master artisans can make with a humble material like jute. I would pick this bag over an all-leather designer bag any day.
Leave a comment if you enjoyed these rustic charm sandals (and the rustic-inspired bag) Made in Spain. Have fun in August, the sweetest month of the summer!