Monday, July 16, 2012

History of the Espadrille or La Alpargata

One of my favorite shoes to wear in the summer is the espadrille. It looks stupendous with everything. The espadrille has been around for hundreds of years, it was worn by Mediterranean fisherman. The espadrille is also known as the alpargata in Spanish. The name espadrille is comes from the Catalan word, espardenya, which is a tough grass used for weaving the ropes. The espadrille originates from the Basque country in Spain. The espadrille originates from the Pyrenees Mountains. The espadrille is a canvas and jute braided sandal. The espadrille is usually handmade. It’s quite easy to make a espadrille since it’s consist of simple materials like hemp, jute, and cotton. Its eco friendly since it’s made from jute and jute has plenty of benefits like its biodegradable and its shapes to your feet. Espadrilles are available in various styles from flat sandals to wedges.

This  espadrille dates back to the 10th century

 The espadrille is often called as the “poor man shoe”. Before the espadrille became a fashionable shoe, it was believe it or not a working shoe. The espadrille was invented by the lower class people or peasants because they needed footwear. Which is pretty ironic since it’s worn also by many opulent people now days. Around the 13th century the espadrille was use by the King Aragons infantry men. Their espadrilles were made from esparto. Espadrilles became really popular in the XVIII century. Mauléon became the center point for espadrilles. More craftsmen were selling the espadrilles from home. Besides being a shoe for farmers, the espadrille was also used for a special dance called Sardana. The Sardana is a Catalan Cultural dance and is Catalunya´s national dance.

The Sardana dance
 In the 19th century the espadrille really took off. In Mauléon espadrille production move from homes to factories to keep up with the demand. Espadrilles made in factory were a great success. It was a viable business in Northern France especially, since the biggest buyers where mine workers. The mine workers kept coming back because the espadrilles only lasted for a couple of weeks. The jute sole wasn’t strong enough to put up with all the abuse mineworkers did. The number of new factories kept increasing; there was a point that there were about thirty factories in Soule. There was a great demand in espadrilles that seasonal workers were needed. Around 1911 espadrilles factories expanded greatly and more were appearing. There were nine factories in Mauléon, employing an estimated amount of 1600 workers. Many of the workers were young girls that worked .in the summer.
Espadrille production

Making Espadrilles in Northern Catalonia

In the 1900s there was an even bigger demand for espadrilles. Mineworkers were now working in mines with explosives and the mines were kept wet. This created a problem because the espadrille has a jute rope sole that wasn’t suitable for wet conditions. The espadrille was modified with the addition of a rubber sole to provide more grip. This explains why espadrilles have that tiny rubbersole. The espadrille became popular in the United States when it was first seen on Lauren Bacall in the movie 1948 “Key Largo” Castañer a family owned espadrille business open in 1927 help shape the espadrille in the incoming years. The family business founded by Luis Castañer and his cousin Tomás Serra. During the civil war in 1936 it became nationalized by the army. The sandals were cheap to make, compare to other footwear. For example, each soldier was given two or three pairs of espadrilles. During that time an espadrille cost about 1 cent to make. Around the 1960s Yves Saint Laurent asked Castañer to make him an espadrille with a two inch heel for a fashion show. This was a revolutionary design for the espadrille. For that point the espadrille went from the peasant shoe to a runway show star. Now days Castañer creates luxury, high-heeled espadrilles for designer labels, like Lanvin, and Christian Louboutin Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Tom Ford, Loro Piana, Fendy, Oscar de la Renta, Cloe, and Roger Vivier, Back in the U.S. the shoe became popular again in the eighties with “Miami Vice.

Lauren Becall

Lauren Bacall in Key Largo
Miami Vice
                                                Famous people that worn espadrilles.
Grace Kelly

Grace kelly

John F.Kennedy
Espadrilles usually are handmade. Its materials are quite simple as all you need is cotton, hemp and jute. The sole of the sandal is usually jute. Jute is a plant fiber that is long and usually is used to make rope. The person that makes the espadrille is called Alpargatero. One of the first steps is braiding the jute into a rope. After the rope is made, the rope is then rolled so which is giving it shape to it become a sole. The third step would be sewing the soles. Fourth step would be adding a small layer of rubber over the jute rope to protect it from wear. The sole is placed in a mold and the rubber is heated. Once the rubber begins to melt, you to attach it to the sole. This process is called vulcanization. The fabric is then cut and sewn.

No comments:

Post a Comment