While they continue to grow in popularity today, the history behind the humble Espadrille is one that dates back more than 700 years to 1322 when they were considered prime peasant footwear. A French term, the Espadrille still retains much of its old and more traditional characteristics, despite the change in methods and material used. With a flexible sole commonly made from esparto rope, many designs today tend to rely on jute rope or braid for cost-efficiency.
Despite their historic association to the poorer classes, their universal appeal to both men and women continues to this day. A popular summer shoe due to their wearable design, versatility and comfort, their price range, like so many things, can vary tremendously too.
It’s thought 90% of the world’s total production of Espadrilles are now made in Bangladesh, and understandably, the process has evolved dramatically in seven centuries. Today, the jute twines are machine-braided and manually formed to the shape of the sole before they are hydraulically pressed with heat to achieve the final shape. The soles are then finished with their distinctive stitching using a specialised Espadrille needle.
While, like so many sartorial trends, the Espadrille may not be for everyone, the high-street and high-end stores do not disappoint when it comes to choice and variety. From different textures to colourful hues and traditional ribbon straps, they’re perfect for wearing with Mom jeans and a plain white tee, for teaming with a smart linen trouser suit or even for adding the finishing touch to a summer wedding guest outfit. They help to bridge that all-important gap between smart and casual dressing, are wonderfully comfortable and, even 700 years on – albeit with a few changes – remain utterly timeless too. Here are just a few of the best I’ve found available for the summer months that lay ahead:
Silk Striped Espadrille | Mango | £35.99
Canvas Espadrilles | JW Anderson via Net-a-Porter | £520
Carina Wedge Espadrilles | Castañer via Farfetch | £105
Satin Espadrille | H&M | £19.99
Stripe Espadrille Wedge | J. Crew | £128