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Espadrilles and Alpargatas: History, Styles and Care Tips

Espadrilles and Alpargatas: History, difference Styles and care tips

In this article we’ll take a look at the characteristics of espadrilles aka alpargatas and guide you into which style would be the best for you. Whether you are a shoe enthusiast or you are just looking for a new pair of summer shoes, our article will help you make the best choice and get more informed on the topic!

So, What are Espadrilles?

Espadrilles are lightweight and versatile shoes with a casual style, which have long been a staple of summer fashion. They are usually characterized by their braided rope soles and canvas uppers, although the materials and designs have evolved over the years to offer a variety of styles.

Espadrilles are known for their comfort, breathability and casual summer look, which makes them a popular choice for the warmer months of the year. So, whether you prefer a classic look or a more modern version, espadrilles are a versatile shoe that can adapt to many outfits and occasions.

The history of Espadrilles and Alpargatas

Espadrilles and alpargatas, these lightweight and versatile shoes, have a rich and ancient history that dates back centuries. Their origin can be traced back to the region of Catalonia, in Spain, as early as the 14th century. At that time, these shoes were worn by peasants and workers because of their durability and comfort. The basic materials were simple: braided rope soles and a canvas or cotton upper.

Spain, in particular Catalonia(where the are called alpargatas), has remained a center for the production of espadrilles throughout its history. Local artisans have perfected their know-how, creating more and more elaborate models. As industrialization progressed, the production of espadrilles also evolved to meet the growing demand. Espadrilles have gained popularity and conquered the fashion world.

Nowadays, espadrilles have become a must-have fashion accessory. Their varied designs, from flat to wedge, from sneakers to dress shoes, have made them versatile shoes for all occasions. The durability and comfort that have made espadrilles famous are always there, but they are also synonymous with style and elegance.

Their centuries-old history, their adaptation to modern trends and their attachment to Spanish culture make espadrilles a lasting symbol of craftsmanship and fashion. When you wear espadrilles, you are carrying with you a long history of tradition and innovation.

What Materials are Used to Make Espadrilles?

blue Espadrilles for the summer

Espadrilles have evolved over the centuries, and with this evolution, the materials used to make them have also changed. While traditional models had braided rope soles and canvas or cotton uppers, modern espadrilles offer a variety of materials to adapt to different tastes and needs. Here is an overview of the materials commonly used to make espadrilles :

Canvas: Canvas is a classic material for espadrilles. It is durable, lightweight and breathable, making it an excellent choice for the summer months. The canvas can also be treated with water-repellent agents to keep your feet dry, even in rainy weather.

Leather: Some espadrilles are made of leather, offering a more elegant appearance. The leather is soft and comfortable, and it can be maintained with specific products for leather in order to keep them in good condition.

Jute: Jute is a fiber of plant origin, also known as sack canvas. It is considered sustainable and environmentally friendly, as it is biodegradable and has a lower carbon footprint than other materials. Jute is often used for the soles of espadrilles, adding a traditional and natural touch.

Rubber: The rope soles of modern espadrilles are sometimes covered with rubber. This makes them more durable and less susceptible to wear, as well as providing additional grip.

Recycled Materials: Environmentally friendly espadrilles sometimes use recycled materials for the uppers or soles. Recycling materials helps to reduce waste and minimize the impact on the environment.

Terry cloth: For more comfort and softness, some espadrilles have terry cloth uppers. This creates a warm and soft feeling, ideal for cooler days.

Knitwear: Knitted espadrilles are a creative option that adds a touch of pizazz to your shoe collection. If you want to bring a touch of originality to your outfit, a pair of knitted espadrilles is an excellent choice.

Recycled Cotton: Recycled cotton espadrilles are a lighter option for hot days. The cotton is comfortable against the skin and is unlikely to make you overheat in hot weather.

By exploring the available materials, you can choose sneakers that match your style, your needs and your environmental concerns. The materials vary from traditional options to contemporary innovations, offering a wide range of choices for all shoe lovers. Whether you prefer the simplicity of canvas, the elegance of leather or the durability of jute, there is a pair of sneakers for everyone.

How Espadrilles are made?

How Espadrilles are made?
Esparto grass is often used for making basketry and espadrilles in Spain

The manufacture of espadrilles is an artisanal process that is based on traditional techniques, transmitted from generation to generation. In a few key points below, we will outline shortly how espadrilles are made:

1. The Materials

The first step in the manufacture of espadrilles is to gather the necessary materials. The basic materials include a braided rope sole, a canvas or cotton upper, cotton thread, and possibly leather reinforcements for certain parts of the shoe.

2. The Preparation of the Sole

making the sole of Espadrilles
craftsman hands making espadrilles

The braided rope sole is one of the emblematic elements of espadrilles. To prepare it, strands of rope are braided in such a way as to create a strong and flexible sole. This sole is then cut to the desired size for the shoe.

3. Hand sewing

Espadrille sole making
Esparto grass fibers used for making espadrille soles

The upper of the espadrille is usually made from canvas or cotton. It is cut into individual pieces that will be assembled to form the shoe. Sewing is one of the crucial steps in the manufacture of espadrilles. The upper parts are sewn to the braided rope sole using thick cotton thread. This step is carried out by hand by experienced craftsmen.

4. The Finish

After sewing the upper to the sole, leather reinforcements can be added to the shoe’s tension points, such as the heel or toes, to strengthen the structure. Canvas or leather straps can also be sewn on the upper to create the laces or decorative elements.

5. Final Assembly

Once all the pieces are securely sewn together, the sneaker is ready for final assembly. The laces, if present, are tied, and the shoe is inspected to ensure that it is in perfect condition.

6. Customization

The espadrilles can be customized with various details, colors and patterns. This allows manufacturers to offer a wide variety of styles to meet everyone’s preferences.

7. Quality and Comfort

The traditional manufacture of espadrilles, combined with the use of natural materials such as rope and canvas, contributes to creating light and comfortable shoes. The espadrilles are appreciated for their breathability and their adaptability to the summer seasons.

So, as we can see, espadrilles are handmade shoes with care and precision, which contributes to their charm and authenticity. The traditional manufacturing process is a tribute to the history and craftsmanship that have made these shoes so popular over the centuries.

Choosing the perfect pair for your style

When choosing espadrilles, it is essential to take into account your personal style and the occasion.

Flat espadrilles are ideal for a casual outfit, while wedge-heeled models can add a touch of elegance to your look.

Canvas sneakers are perfect for a sporty and casual look. Be sure to select a pair that fits your lifestyle and preferences.

Espadrilles vs Alpargatas: What’s the difference?

It is common to hear the terms “espadrilles” and “alpargatas” used interchangeably, but is there really a difference between these two types of shoes? In reality, the term “espadrille” is of French origin, while “alpargata” is what they call the same type of shoes in Spain.

So, the main distinction lies in their country of origin, because they are essentially the same shoes. Whatever name you use, these shoes remain exceptionally versatile and elegant.

Wear your sneakers in style

Espadrilles are versatile shoes that can be worn in a variety of contexts. They are perfect for summer, because they are light and airy, ideal for hot days. You can pair them with shorts, summer dresses or jeans for a casual look. However, they are also appropriate for more formal occasions when you opt for models with wedges or elegant designs. The espadrilles offer a perfect balance between style and comfort.

Taking care of your espadrille sneakers

To keep your espadrilles in good condition, it is essential to maintain them well. The canvas fabric or the material of the upper of your espadrilles can be cleaned with a soft cloth and soapy water. If you own leather sneakers, use a suitable leather care product to keep them in good condition. It is also essential to protect them from moisture, as water can damage the braided rope soles.

Here are some practical tips to take care of your espadrilles :

Clean regularly:

To prevent the accumulation of dirt and dust, clean your espadrilles regularly. Use a soft cloth and soapy water to clean the canvas or cotton upper. For leather sneakers, a suitable leather care product will help preserve their original appearance.

Avoid water:

As mentioned earlier, water can be the enemy of espadrilles. Avoid wearing them in rainy weather or in places where they may be in contact with water. If they are wet, let them air dry naturally, away from any direct heat source.

Store them properly:

When you are not wearing your sneakers, store them in a dry place and away from direct sunlight. Avoid leaving them exposed to the sun for long periods of time, as this can alter the colors and the quality of the canvas.

Replace the insoles:

If the insoles of your sneakers are removable, consider replacing them regularly to maintain a good level of comfort and support for your feet.

Protect the soles:

As the soles of espadrilles are usually made of braided ropes, they are vulnerable to wear and tear. Avoid walking on rough or abrasive surfaces, as this can damage them faster. If you plan to wear your sneakers in difficult conditions, look for models with reinforced soles for increased durability.

Personalize them:

Espadrilles are the ideal support for artistic expression. You can customize your sneakers with paintings, embroidery or other ornaments to give them a unique look and reflect your personal style.

By following these care tips, you can extend the life of your espadrilles and continue to wear them with elegance and comfort. Taking care of your shoes will allow you to enjoy their timeless style for a long time.

Why espadrilles are perfect for summer

Espadrilles are an ideal choice for summer due to their lightweight and breathable design. They allow your feet to stay cool, even in hot weather, while offering exceptional comfort for walking. Their casual style harmonizes perfectly with the summer months, whether you are walking on the beach, shopping in the city or enjoying sunny days.

Explore the popular styles of espadrilles

There are a multitude of styles of espadrilles to choose from. Flat models are perfect for a casual look, while espadrilles with a wedge heel add a touch of elegance to any outfit. Canvas sneakers are a comfortable option for a sporty outfit. You can also opt for models with details such as floral motifs, stripes or bright colors to add a touch of originality to your summer look.

Flat models:

Flat espadrilles are ideal for casual days. They offer great comfort while keeping an elegant appearance. You can pair them with a light outfit for a day out on the town, a trip to the beach or a picnic in the park.

Espadrilles with a wedge heel(Wedges):

If you are looking for a little height, the espadrilles with a wedge heel are an excellent choice. They are similar to sandals and add a touch of elegance to your look and can be worn with summer dresses, skirts or light trousers. The wedge heel offers a good balance between style and comfort.

Canvas sneakers:

Espadrilles are not limited to traditional models. The canvas sneakers offer exceptional comfort and are perfect for a sporty outfit. They are perfect for city walks, outings with friends or summer activities.

The original designs:

The espadrilles are available in a variety of patterns and colors. Whether you like floral patterns, stripes or bright colors, you can add a touch of originality to your summer look by opting for espadrilles with a unique design.

Lace espadrilles:

For a more sophisticated look, you can opt for lace espadrilles. They add a touch of femininity to your outfit and are ideal for special occasions or summer evenings. Lace espadrilles are similarly built to wedge heel espadrilles.

Lace-up sneakers:

Lace-up sneakers offer a personalized fit and a casual style. You can pair them with shorts, summer dresses or light trousers for a trendy summer look.

Metallic espadrilles:

If you want to shine under the summer sun, opt for metallic espadrilles. They add a touch of sparkle to your outfit and are perfect for summer evenings or special events.

Glitter espadrilles:

For a festive look, choose glitter espadrilles. They are ideal for summer parties, outdoor weddings or end-of-year events.

By exploring the different styles of espadrilles, you can find the perfect pair to complete your summer wardrobe and express your personal style. Whether you prefer the comfort of flat models, the elegance of wedge heels or the originality of unique designs, espadrilles offer a multitude of options for all tastes.

Espadrilles as a fashion statement

Espadrilles are not only shoes, they are also a fashion statement. Their versatility and elegance make them an accessory appreciated by fashionistas all over the world. Fashion designers have integrated espadrilles into their collections, and many celebrities have been photographed wearing them, which has propelled them to the rank of style icons.

Cultural significance and environmentally friendly choices

In addition to their aesthetic appearance, espadrilles have an important cultural significance, especially in Spain and the Catalan region. They reflect the simplicity and authenticity of rural life. In addition, many brands are committed to producing espadrilles in an eco-responsible way, using sustainable and environmentally friendly materials.

FAQ’s (Frequently asked questions)

1. Are espadrilles suitable for all seasons?

Espadrilles are usually summer shoes, ideal for the warmer months of the year. Their lightweight design and breathable uppers make them less suitable for cold and wet seasons. However, some versions of espadrilles are designed with warmer materials for the intermediate seasons. Be sure to choose the right type depending on the weather and the season.

2. Are espadrilles durable?

The durability of espadrilles depends on the model and the quality of the materials. Traditional espadrilles made of braided rope and canvas tend to wear out faster than modern models that use more robust materials. It is important to choose quality espadrilles if you want them to last longer. In addition, proper maintenance can also contribute to extending their service life.

3. Are espadrilles environmentally friendly?

Some espadrilles are made from environmentally friendly materials, such as jute, which is biodegradable and has a low environmental impact. The choices of materials and workmanship determine how environmentally friendly a pair of espadrilles is. If you are concerned about the environmental impact, look for espadrilles made with sustainable materials.

4. Are the espadrilles suitable for children?

Yes, there are children’s espadrilles, which are usually available in a variety of sizes and colors suitable for children. They offer the same comfort and versatility as the adult models, making them an excellent option for children during the summer months.

5. Are the sneakers comfortable for walking?

Espadrilles are usually comfortable for everyday use and light walking. However, it is essential to choose sneakers that offer good arch support if you plan to walk long distances. Models with padded soles can provide better comfort for walking.

6. Are the espadrilles suitable for sports activities?

Sneakers are not designed for intense sports activities. However, modern basketball-style versions may be suitable for light use for casual activities. It is essential to choose espadrilles adapted to the specific activity that you have in mind to guarantee your comfort and safety.

Conclusion: Find your perfect pair of sneakers

Espadrilles are much more than shoes. They embody history, fashion, culture and respect for the environment. When you choose a pair of espadrilles, you are doing much more than opting for an elegant shoe; you are adopting an ancient tradition while remaining at the forefront of fashion. So, find the perfect pair that matches your style and your values, and enjoy the summer with comfort and elegance.


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