Spain is a shoe-making country. While Italy often gets all the international attention, Spain gives the impression it could possibly match Italy for number of shoe manufacturers and quality brands. And, at least up until a few years ago, before the euro-dollar exchange rate shifted dramatically, quality shoes in Spain were seriously cheaper than in the United States (and Spanish brands are still, of course, cheaper in Spain).
A quick view of the website for the Federación de Industrias del Calzado Español (FICE) gives you a sense of the national presence of Spanish shoemakers. The major industrial areas for footwear production in Spain have been Elche, Elda, Villena, all in Alicante, and the Community of Valencia, followed by these other regions in descending order: Almansa and Fuensalida (Castile-La Mancha), Arnedo (La Rioja), Mallorca and Menorca (Balearic Islands); Illueca (Aragon) and Valverde del Camino (Andalusia).
Easily the most famous shoe designer to come out of Spain is Manolo Blahnik for women. Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City made his shoes famous through her shopping obsession with them. This shoe designer was born on the Canary Islands (his mother is Spanish), but he moved away and today the brand is based in the US.
There are plenty of other established fashionable Spanish shoe brands as well. While they do not quite reach the same level of acclaim, here is a list of some other higher-end shoe labels:
- Paco Gil (women’s, Elda in Alicante)
- Brenda Zaro (women’s)
- Barrats 1890 (men’s, Mallorca)
- Pons Quintana (women’s, Menorca)
- Carmen Poveda (women’s, Alicante)
- Farrutx (men’s, Alicante)
- Martinelli (men’s and women’s, Alicante)
- Pedro Miralles (women’s, Alicante).
At the mid-range, probably the most visible and recognised Spanish shoe brand is Camper (Mallorca). As is the case for many of these Spanish brands, Camper was the result of a younger generation shoemaker, Fluxá, from a long line of shoemakers, who decided to branch off from the family business and begin a national, and later international, brand. Another upscale shoe label, Lottusse (men’s, Mallorca), is also from Fluxá family. But Camper is just one of many other Spanish brands starting to show the ‘Hecho en España‘ (Made in Spain) label, showing pride in the country’s impressive shoe industry. Another famous Spanish footwear brand is Looky, inspired by women passionate about fashion, comfort and quality Made in Menorca (Balearic islands, Spain).
At the mid-range the list gets pretty long:
- Pikolinos (men’s and women’s, Alicante)
- Panama Jack (adventure footwear, Alicante)
- Zinda (women’s, Elche)
- Hispanitas (shoes and bags, Alicante)
- Pielsa (men’s and women’s nautic footwear, Toledo)
- Callaghan (part of the Grupo Hergar, in Arnedo, self-proclaimed “Ciudad del calzado”)
- Lodi (women’s, Elda)
- Gadea Shoes by Lodi (women’s, Elda)
- Looky (women’s, Menorca)
- Vulladi (home-wear and children’s, Elche)
- Patricia Miller (women’s).
There are slightly more affordable shoes priced in the mid to low range. In this group Wonders is the most recognisable and you can find in its soles that shoes say ‘Made with love in Spain’.
But there are also some newer, colourful brands, including:
- 24 horas (Elche)
- Snipe (ecological shoes, Valencia)
- La Cadena (Munilla, La Rioja)
- Valverde del Camino, Tejus (Alicante)
- Segarra (boots, Castellón)
- Victoria (urban shoes, in particular ‘bambas‘ or ‘zapatillas’ (Logroño).
And this is not a comprehensive list of all the Spanish shoe brands that exist. In addition to these many brands, there are a few styles of footwear that evolved from local Spanish shoe traditions. Perhaps the most established and increasingly exported Spanish style of footwear are menorquinas sandals, or abarca de Menorca.