From Humble Beginnings to Haute Couture: The (Brief) History of the Espadrille

The espadrille’s classic, comfortable, and eco-friendly design is a staple for any shoe collection. And espadrilles have come a long way in the last 500 years: originally designed in Pyrennean Catalonia and Occitania, these shoes were worn by 13th century Spanish foot soldiers. Now espadrille wedges and flats seen everywhere from New York runways to Las Ramblas.

VISCATA continues this tradition with a modern twist — every pair is hand made in Spain using all-natural jute in an array of fun colors and styles. We’ve improved the original designs with softer, more comfortable fabrics, elastics to fit feet of all shapes and sizes, and modern manufacturing techniques to ensure our espadrilles are comfortable right out of the box.

Centuries ago, espadrilles were considered a peasant’s shoe. They are lightweight and comfortable — perfect when you have to work long hours on your feet. Over the years these handcrafted shoes have become a significant part of Catalonian culture: Catalonia’s national dance is the sardana, a symbol of Catalan unity and pride. And guess what type of shoes the sardanistes wear for this iconic cultural dance? That’s right—espadrilles!

As they grew in popularity in the 19th century, espadrilles were manufactured and exported from Catalonia. By the early 20th century, espadrilles were made to have stronger rubber soles to be more durable and weather resistant. And in 1948 espadrilles first fascinated US fashionistas when Lauren Bacall wore them in the movie Key Largo. Her wardrobe was tropical, carefree, and stylish — which would soon become synonymous with the espadrille. In the 1960s the world renowned designer Yves St-Laurent ordered espadrilles with two-inch heels for a fashion show. Suddenly this working-class shoe became a beautiful, flattering fashion statement.

Due to the high demand for espadrilles throughout the world, much manufacturing is currently done in Bangladesh and China. However, VISCATA hand makes every authentic pair in Spain with love. VISCATA’s espadrilles keep the tradition alive and also offer a range of designs and vibrant colors to fit your style and keep things fresh.

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