All Photos: Beth Hoke
Contributor Beth Hoke shares details of a recent visit to HANDMADE Barcelona where she built her very own Spanish espadrilles
Originally the go-to shoe for peasants in the Catalonia region, Spanish espadrilles have become a summer staple reimagined by luxury brands such as Yves Saint Laurent, Ferragamo, Gucci, Valentino, Chanel, Christian Louboutin, and Fendi. Indeed, pay a visit to Barcelona in summer and you’ll see Gucci espadrilles, along with the aforementioned brands (and many others besides), being worn by visitors and locals alike.
The status of Spanish Espadrilles as a fashion statement is due in large part to native son Salvador Dali who sported the sandals at home and abroad. The Hollywood elite took notice of Dali’s choice of casual footwear, paired with everything from cotton chinos to chic linen trousers.
Lauren Bacall, Rita Hayworth, and Grace Kelly were soon seen wearing espadrilles both on- and off-screen. Though interest in the style waned in the 60s and 70s, the popular 80s television drama Miami Vice brought them back to the forefront of fashion.
Genuine Made in Barcelona Spanish Espadrilles
If you’re a fan of the style, there’s no better place to shop in Barcelona for a pair of Spanish espadrilles (or espardenya, as they’re locally known) than HANDMADE Barcelona. In shops scattered throughout the city, you’ll find a range of handcrafted espadrilles with regional design variations as well as a curated selection of handbags and other shoe styles made from skilled artisans in Spain and Colombia.
For a unique experience, you can even create your own pair using traditional materials and techniques at one of HANDMADE Barcelona’s in-store workshops. Husband-and-wife brand owners, Luis and Kathe, share the story of this iconic shoe and guide you through the process of making a one-of-a-kind souvenir in individual or small group sessions.
During the workshop, you’ll learn how esparto, a tough regional grass, was soaked in water and then tenderized to shape a rope sole that defined the shoe as an espadrille. You’ll learn about color and style variations and the meaning behind them.
You’ll also learn about different ways the shoes would have been laced on your feet depending on if you were working in the fields, dancing at a wedding, or running with the bulls. And you’ll come to appreciate the skill that goes into making each pair as you stitch your own using the base, style, color, and charm of your choice.
Make Your Own Spanish Espadrilles with an Online Workshop
If you can’t get to Barcelona right now, you can still enjoy the experience via several remote options. A virtual workshop with the HANDMADE Barcelona team lets you make your selections and watch your shoes being stitched on camera. After the workshop, the espadrilles will be shipped to you at no additional cost via FedEx.
Alternatively, you can request that a DIY package be sent to your home. It includes a video that shows you how to create a customized pair of espadrilles using the materials you chose when you placed your order.
If you’d rather just shop from home and forgo the sewing, you’ll find a wide variety of espadrilles and other footwear available in HANDMADE Barcelona’s online store. Seasonal ‘look books’ provide style inspiration for their beautifully handcrafted shoes, sandals, and boots, as well as women’s and men’s espadrilles. Whichever option you choose, you’ll be supporting a business model that uses ethically sourced materials, empowers local artists, and keeps Spanish traditions alive.
Learn more about HANDMADE Barcelona’s genuine espadrille shoes on their website at www.barcelonahm.com.
Contributor Beth Hoke is a travel and lifestyle writer who has created content for some of the industry leaders in experiential travel, including Google’s Touring Bird; Tui’s blog, Musement; and Vamonde. Her features have appeared online and in print at RileyMag.com, DispatchesEurope.com, and Military Spouse magazine.
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