When summertime arrives, clothes bore us. Let’s not even talk about shoes! But we certainly can’t go around barefoot, especially on hot asphalt. Fortunately, there is an excellent compromise between simplicity, comfort and elegance, and style. The first question everyone asks is: Are espadrilles made for men or women? And we answer: for both! Espadrilles are entirely unisex and only in the last few years have we started to see female-only wedge variants. But let’s go in order.
Where do espadrilles come from?
The espadrilles come from Occitania and Catalonia, in the south of France and the north of Spain, and the first time they were seen was in the thirteenth century. Originally the shoes were worn by soldiers, peasants, and workers, shoes of the lower class in short. Easy to make, lightweight, and comfortable: they were perfect for working long hours on your feet.
They were also made from simple materials, often used in the construction of consumer goods. Originally, espadrilles were made from durable cotton, commonly called canvas. Nowadays, shoes are made from all kinds of fabrics, including leather and suede, and other more premium materials.
The sole and heel are made from a rope-like material called jute (yes, the same canvas used to make sacks), a strong plant fiber grown primarily in tropical countries like India and Bangladesh. It’s an easy-to-produce, sturdy, and biodegradable material, so it’s the perfect material to use to make these types of shoes.
How do you make espadrilles today?
Original espadrilles, the truly authentic ones, are handmade by artisans in northern Spain using traditional techniques. Artisans still hand-wrap jute and carefully baste and shape each shoe. Of course, as they have become popular items, only the premium ones are still handmade. Online and in consumer stores, you can always find great industrial products.
How do you wear espadrilles?
The best thing about these shoes is that they are very versatile so that you can wear them with jeans or shorts for a casual summer look, or in the case of a pair of espadrille wedges with a dress for an elegant and very summery evening look. And it’s always summer we’re talking about, at least with traditional espadrilles. Overall, conventional canvas espadrilles are best worn during the hot and dry summer months. You can opt for suede and leather models in the fall, which will be more resistant to the early cold.
How to tie espadrilles
There’s a fair amount of debate about this for women’s models, but here’s how we recommend you do it.
Single weave and bow on the front: simple and elegant, this style with a bow on the front works best with low wedge styles.
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Double cross and bow on the back: a little more complicated but great for some types of espadrilles. This model requires longer laces to wrap around the ankle.
Wash the espadrilles
This is one of the questions we get asked most often. We recommend not putting them in the washing machine. The canvas would not have any problem, but the jute sole could come out damaged. If they get a little dirty, we can clean the top of the canvas with a cloth or sponge soapy but well wring out. In hard dirt, it is preferable to wash them by hand in cold water with a mild detergent and let them air dry. In general, we must always be careful not to damage the jute sole. And if the shoes get wet? The shoes sole is nowadays covered with natural rubber, so the bottom is protected from water. However, if we notice that the jute rope has gotten slightly wet, it is good to expose the espadrilles to the air and wait until they are well dry. They will mold back onto your feet after a bit of use. Since the espadrilles are handmade, there is always some variation after washing, but overall we consider that when buying and first use are a bit small. Obviously every pair is different, but it should always take the fact that the canvas sags a bit into account.
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