The espadrille. alpargata or esparteña is a type of footwear made of spun natural fibres such as cotton, wicker or canvas with soles of esparto, fique or hemp, or a mixture of jute or esparto grass which is secured by simple fastening, a piece of elastic sewn to the fabric or with ribbons. The original and true espadrille has been handcrafted since the 13th century in the villages of southern France, northern Spain and Balearic islands. Authentic espadrille-making is an art that has almost disappeared due to globalization.
In the early days, the soles of the espadrilles were only made of rope. Since the 40s a fine layer of natural rubber has been added to the bottom of the soles to make them more durable. Soles are heat pressed in a metal mold by melting vulcanized natural rubber onto the rope sole without the use of any glue or chemicals.
The cotton canvas is manufactured along the Cantabric and Mediterranean coast of Spain, widely known for the quality and singular beauty of its traditional weaving. This highly complex procedure involves hundreds of dyed colourful threads that are woven together on a loom, creating a beautifully designed canvas, perfectly customized to make the uppers of the espadrilles.
The last and most important step is where true magic happens through the skilled hands of the seamstresses of the village. A tradition that has been passed on from mothers to daughters throughout generations and consists of skillfully sewing the fabric onto the rope soles with even stitches and finishing with an embroidery at the front of the shoe.
Here a big question: Can I wash espadrilles? We would advice against putting them in washing machine. The canvas would be fine, but the jute sole could be damaged. If they do get a little dirty, wipe the canvas upper with soapy cloth or sponge, but do not submerge in water. This way the jute sole will stay stronger for longer.
But what if my shoes get wet? When the sole of the shoe is covered in natural rubber the bottom is protected from water. However, if you notice the jute rope has gotten slightly wet, just place the shoes where they can air dry.
Here some well-known Spanish manufacturers: